Thorough, objective probe on CDO blast urged by peace advocates

Jul. 29, 2013

Davao Today

Davao City — Peace advocates who probed the 2003 Davao bombings asked authorities for a “thorough, objective” investigation regarding Friday’s bombing of  Limketkai Center in Cagayan de Oro City that killed seven and injured 27 others.

Lawyer Beverly Musni, convenor of Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao (InPeace) told Davao Today said she joins the public in condemning the bombing as it “intends to sow fear by attacking civilians.”

She also “challenged authorities to answer questions by the public, to leave no stone unturned to find the truth and justice for the victims.”

The city has been hit by bombings in the past years, but none as big as last Friday night around 11 pm at Kyla’s Bistro at the Rosario Arcade in Limketkai Complex, where participants from a national convention of doctors in the mall’s convention center were partying.

Three people died on the spot,  while four others died at the hospital. Medical representatives Emmanuel Palafox from Zamboanga City, Anthony Cañete of Iligan City, and Jose Ryan Estose from Cagayan de Oro, died on the spot, while  Provincial Board Member Roldan Lagbas, Doctor Edwin Malamay, and medical representative Anthony Paredes succumbed at the hospital.

Another InPeace convenor, Bishop Felixberto Calang from the Iglesia Filpina Independiente Diocese of Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental, urged authorities to keep the public informed on their probe and on the safety of the city.

Bishop Calang visited the wake of Board Member Lagbas, an IFI member who was among the seven killed.  He downplayed that Lagbas was the target of the bombing.

“(Lagbas)’ family, his wife, told me he has no political enemies.  They are still waiting for news on the investigation.”

Local Interior Secretary Mar Roxas flew in to Cagayan de Oro on Saturday to look into the status of the probe.

In a radio interview with DZBB, Roxas clarified that investigators have not found shrapnel or metal fragments at the blast site, which would indicate the kind of explosive device that was used.

“According to the doctors who did the autopsy report, there were no shrapnel that can be attributed to a grenade explosion,” Roxas said.

“It is also not an IED (improvised explosive device) made from mortar or artillery shell,” he said.

Ordnance experts have found wires and a battery that could have been used as a trigger but not much else.

Roxas also criticized police when he saw the blast site was cleaned up by the establishment owners while investigation is ongoing.

Musni said the cleaning up of the crime scene “could have been done with the knowledge of police authorities. The police are accountable with that action as it affects the investigation.”

Musni also raised the Moro community’s concern in Cagayan de Oro that they are drawing suspicion by the public on the bombing.

“Another side of this story is that the Moro people are put in a spot.  Recently, the new city mayor (Oscar Moreno) has evicted Moro street vendors from the streets and cancelled stalls in Divisoria’s Night Café.  People are speculating that the bombing has to do with the vendors, but this is unfounded,” Musni said.

Musni does not want to speculate if the bombing is politically-motivated to the ongoing peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as she said the public has accepted the news of the talks well.

Both Musni and Calang were part of a citizen-led Mindanao Truth Commission in 2003 that probed 33 bombings in that period in Mindanao, including the old Davao City Airport and old Sasa Wharf.  The Commission heard testimonies of Moro civilians who  were abducted or arrested and tortured to admit to the bombings. The courts have cleared them of the charges.

The Truth Commission found no links of the 2003 bombings to the MILF but instead found plausible evidence that they were done by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, a finding corroborated by  then junior military officers.

The Philippine police has placed the country under full alert Saturday following the bombings. (Tyrone A. Velez/

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