MANILA -- The four persons of interest in the twin bomb explosions that ripped through a church in Jolo, Sulu who have surrendered to authorities to clear their names, are now deemed innocent.
“They were removed as persons of interest in connection with the bombing incident in Jolo, Sulu. Yesterday, they freely went to the police station to give their sworn statement that they were not involved in the incident. They denied involvement in the bombing of the (Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral) in Jolo, Sulu,” Senior Supt. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson, told reporters Thursday.
He said the four were immediately released upon verification of their statements.
Banac also said based on the probe of the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG), there was no alias Kamah among the four persons who surrendered.
“As of now, we continue to hunt down and probe those behind the bombing of the cathedral in Jolo, Sulu, especially the bandit ASG,” he said.
On Wednesday, Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer, identified the four as Alshaber Arbi, 18; Gerry Isnajil, whose age was not provided; Alsimar Mohammad Albi, 24; and a 17-year-old male.
Besana said Arbi, a Grade 11 student of the Kalingalan Caluang National High School, and Isnajil, a teacher in the same school, were among those caught by a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera after Sunday's twin blasts at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Barangay Walled City, Jolo, Sulu.
On the CCTV footage, Arbi was the person in a ponytail while Isnajil was the man in maroon baseball cap with a red backpack.
Besana said Arbi and Isnajil surrendered to Senior Supt. Pablo Labra II, Sulu police director, at about 10 a.m. Wednesday to clear their names.
He said that Alsimar and his 17-year old brother submitted themselves to Labra at about 3 p.m. on the same day for the same reason.
He said the investigation showed that prior to the explosion, the two went to a pharmacy to buy medicine for Alsimar’s mother who is confined at the Integrated Provincial Health Office hospital.
After buying medicine, a loud explosion occurred at the church and Julius immediately went near the vicinity when the second explosion occurred.
According to Besana, Alsimar called his younger brother to stay away just as the suspects who were seen behind him fled the vicinity.
According to the brothers' statements, the two did not know the identities of the suspects and that they came out for fear that authorities would hunt them down. (PNA)