MANILA - The Armed Forces chief of staff refuses to call the foiled bombing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 a terrorist plot, saying it was planned by people who only wanted to seek attention.
"I don't think it was a terror attack, because you know, they were just firecrackers," said General Gregorio Catapang.
"I heard it was pla-pla. We were told that there were gasoline containers, but not that big."
Catapang, however, admits that they had been monitoring the group on and off because they are associated with a man who used to cause trouble for authorities.
"Well, you remember that there was a guy who wanted attention... He threw some metal spikes along EDSA. These aren't barbarous acts, but comic relief, maybe. Getting attention."
Catapang is referring to Ely Pamatong, a man who rose to infamy in 2004 after he ran for the presidency but was declared a nuisance candidate.
After being stricken off the list of candidates, Pamatong's supporters scattered spokes along EDSA, damaging about a hundred cars.
In 2011, Pamatong and his group called Discovery Crusade of the Philippines "declared war" against China by burning two Chinese flags in front of the United States embassy.
Asked what Pamatong had to do with the arrested group, Catapang said: "I think they were close friends of Pamatong."
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima earlier said the three suspects were also planning to bomb SM Mall of Asia, the DMCI building and the Chinese Embassy in Manila.
Last August 28, some 600 Chinese nationals were found working illegally inside the DMCI powerplant in Batangas.
"Pamatong has been notorious for doing these things," Catapang said.
"He is part of our continuous monitoring but he is not really a threat to us. Just so happened that he was trying to present himself as a prankster."