QUIAPO BLASTS | Cops eye possible angles other than terrorism

May 7, 2017 - 11:08 PM
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Quiapo blast fatality
Detail from the blast scene where the courier victim died on the spot. Photographed by Alex Imam II

The law enforcement establishment investigating the almost twin bomb attacks in Quiapo district Saturday evening are looking at other possible angles than act of terrorism.

Even as law enforcement forensic teams continue the task of stitching together the “post-blast investigation”, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde said on Sunday that the preliminary narrative tends to point to another angle, not likely terrorism, but possibly related to religion, or the person or work of the apparent target individual.

The apparent target, identified as Atty. Nasser Abinal, who happens to be an imam [religious leader] and who works as a Revenue District Officer of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) assigned in Intramuros, Manila.

According to Albayade, Abinal told law enforcers claimed that he has long been receiving “threats” to his life.

Initial scene of the crime information gathered indicated that a delivery man from GrabExpress was carrying the explosive wrapped inside a package, which was, in turn, handed over to an aide of Abinal before it went off, while he was trying to open the apparently booby-trapped package, killing both him and the motorcycle-riding courier.

The second explosion, which went off at around 8:30 p.m., was very likely pre-placed ahead of time and could have been triggered as a secondary blast. Scene of the Crime inspectors are still trying to look at possible targets and motives.

NCRPO’s Albayalde did mention in passing that, in some instances in Mindanao, Explosives and Ordnance operatives have encountered secondary blast situations while conducting their work responding to a blast incident, implying that the secondary blast operation could have been meant for first responders at the scene.

But he said he is not inclined to speculate whether or not this was a terror attack: “If it was, perhaps the perpetrator would choose a venue that has a lot more potential victims than a small neighborhood stall, such as in this case.”

He said that the two police officers wounded in the second blast, Chief Explosives and Ordnance Chemist Chief Inspt Elisa Reyes Arturo and PO2 Aldrin Resos of the MPD K-9 Unit, are out of danger.

Albayalde urged the public to stay away from the area of the explosions if they don’t have any urgent business, and also encouraged courier companies to exercise greater caution in the handling or conveying packages for delivery: “Tighten up your security procedures. As for kibitzers, stay away.”

Even as scores of persons of possible interest are being interrogated by the police, the remains of the victims were allowed to be retrieved by 1:00 p.m. Sunday, in keeping with the Muslim custom of expeditious burial of the dead. (With a report from Philippine News Agency)