POLICE EYES EXTORTION IN ISULAN BLAST
BLAST SITE. Police investigators search for evidence in front of the Carlito’s Chicken Restaurant in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat following a blast that injured 18 people on Wednesday (March 3). (Photo courtesy of 6th ID)
ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat — The bombing of a restaurant here that injured at least 17 persons on Wednesday was carried out by a lone man who posed as a buyer of roasted chicken, police said.
“He was the suspected extortionist, the one who left the bag that eventually went off,” said Police Major Ronnie Dardo, speaking for the Sultan Kudarat police office.
Dardo said the owner of Carlito’s Chicken Restaurant had received text messages, demanding PHP50,000 in monthly protection money.
“Currently, we are focusing only on one person as perpetrator based on the CCTV (closed-circuit television) security camera of the establishment,” he said.
Isulan Mayor Marites Pallasigue, in a separate interview, said she supports the findings of the police, noting that a new extortion group preying on big businesses has emerged in the area.
“I cannot divulge the name of the extortion group yet as police investigation is going on,” Pallasigue told a local radio station, adding that the extortion demands began on March 28.
Dardo said bomb experts recovered bomb components and shrapnel at the blast site. He said the improvised explosive device, set off through a mobile phone, was similar to those used in the past bombings here and in the region.
The still unidentified bomber, posing as a customer, went inside the restaurant with two bags and wearing a surgical mask. After buying chicken, he left the second bag on the floor and went out with one bag and the purchased item in a plastic bag.
Some waiters noticed that the man left the other bag and called his attention.
Unknown to them, the man left behind the bomb-laden bag just outside the establishment, under the outdoor air-condition condenser unit situated at the front.
Barely half an hour later at about 3:15 p.m., a blast ripped through the establishment wounding innocent civilians, among them six minors and a pregnant woman.
Dardo said the restaurant was filled with clients celebrating the graduation of their loved ones at the time of the explosion.
In a report, the Police Regional Office 12 (Soccsksargen) identified the victims as Norhana Jamadil, 30; Joven Mamasalagan, 7; Christian Casipe, 21; Cyril Gubal dela Cerna, 7; Watchel dela Cerna, 16; Laika Falco Agpet, 10; Montasir Masundig, 20; Ronnel Cariño, 27; and Rosare Joy Teodochio, 18, and Masser Masundig, 40, were all brought to the Holy Nazarene Hospital.
Taken to the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Hospital were Alidan Malidas, 14; Bai Ali Malidas, 40; Che-che Malidas, 22; Johnny Garcia, 30; Carl Denver Laguerder, 8; Bai Aminah Japitana, 25; Jenny Pagabamgan, 33; and Randy Tranquillero.
Sultan Kudarat Vice Governor Raden Sakaluran said the provincial government will shoulder the victims’ hospital expenses.
Sakaluran condemned the perpetrator and vowed to help bring justice to the victims.