(Updated 5:39 p.m.) President Benigno Aquino on Sunday condemned Friday night’s deadly blast at a bar in a popular shopping area in Cagayan de Oro City, and ordered a full probe into the incident.
“Hindi natuwa ang pangulo at unang reaction, kinukundena [itong] act of senseless violence," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said on government-run dzRB radio.
Valte noted the area where the incident occurred – a bar at the Limketkai shopping center – is packed on Friday nights as many people go there to unwind.
For now, she said, police are reviewing closed-circuit television footage to look for clues.
Police on Sunday conducted a reenactment and reconstruction of the crime scene to determine the trajectory of shrapnel, the extent of damage and how the shrapnel hit the victims.
Restaurant employees, customers, CIDG, SWAT, EOD, NBI agents participated in the reenactment.
Meanwhile, the task force revealed that a composite sketch of the suspect has been produced. However they refused to identify the suspect as the investigation is still ongoing. Police also noted that there might be additional suspects, based on the testimonies of witnesses of the blast.
"Nirereconstruct namin ang crime scene para malaman kung saan naka position yung mga tao before yung bombing incident, at tinitingnan namin kung saan nakalagay yung bomb, tapos kung paano nilagay yung bomb sa chair. 'Yun yung ico-crossmatch namin sa CCTV footage na nakuha rin namin," said spokesperson P/Supt Michael John Deloso.
'By the book'
In her radio interview, Valte also confirmed that Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II had flown to Cagayan de Oro to make sure the investigation is being done by the book.
“They are trying to reconstruct the crime scene. The owners were allowed to clean up before a clearance was given by police. They are trying to reconstruct crime scene and going through CCTV [footage],” Valte said.
Roxas earlier expressed dismay that the crime scene was cleaned up before all the evidence could be gathered.
"Itong naging pagsabog, ito'y isang act of cowardice. Terorismo ba ito, personal grudge ba ito, away-babae, away-lupa, hindi natin malalaman kung ano nga ba. Ang ebidensyang andoon sa crime scene, nawala na," Roxas said in a report on GMA News TV’s Balitanghali.
Roxas also criticized the "scrubbing off" of pieces of evidence at the blast site before a thorough investigation could be done.
"Ngayon lang ako nakakita ng crime scene na in less than 12 hours after the incident ay ni-release na," he said.
"At hindi lang ni-release, hinayaan nilang kuskusin, linisin. Ibig sabihin, lahat ng mga ebidensya ay nawala na."
Roxas said though the SOCO (scene of the crime operatives) insisted that the needed pieces of evidence have been collected from the site, a lot more could have been done with "modernong siyensa at mga modernong kagamitan" in evidence collection.
"'Yung kagamitan ng Cagayan de Oro ay hindi naman katumbas sa kagamitan ng mga mas modernong SOCO investigation," he added. "Ang crime scene, wala na, nawala na kasama ang sabon at tubig na ginamit sa pagkuskus ng crime scene na ito."
Roxas instead noted that the police will conduct profiling and background checks on victims in an attempt to determine who the real target of the attack was.
On the other hand, Valte said the Palace will not comment on the possible motives for the blast until the investigation results are in.
“At this point, while there may be speculations to that effect we will not give any comments,” she said, when asked if the blast was meant to disrupt the peace process in Mindanao. — Patricia Denise Chiu/LBG/BM, GMA News