MANILA, Philippines - A member of the Special Action Force (SAF) was arrested for his alleged involvement in the bus bombing in Makati City last Jan. 25, 2011, where four people were killed and 11 others were wounded.
Before his arrest, Police Officer 2 Arnold Mayo had been under restrictive custody at the SAF headquarters since Jan. 25, 2012 – exactly a year after the bus blast – when he was injured in a bomb explosion when he and other policemen brought an 81-millimeter mortar round to a junk shop in Lower Bicutan, Taguig City.
Mayo will be detained at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-National Capital Region (CIDG-NCR) pending the return of the warrant to the Makati City regional trial court, which issued his arrest for murder yesterday.
Mayo is the only respondent identified in the complaint filed by the SITG Newman Goldliner before the Department of Justice (DOJ). Police said the explosion that ripped the bus was also triggered by an 81-mm mortar round.
Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr., spokesman of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said operatives of the CIDG-NCR immediately served the order at the SAF headquarters in Bicutan, Taguig.
“From being under custody, Mayo is now under arrest,” Cerbo said.
PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, who was then the National Capital Region Police Office director, confirmed Mayo was the person caught by a surveillance camera of a fastfood restaurant carrying a sack supposed to have contained the improvised explosive device that went off inside a Newman Goldliner bus in Makati in 2011.
But before he could be linked to the bus blast, Mayo and fellow SAF members PO2 Elizalde Bisaya and PO3 Jose Toralba brought a vintage bomb to a junk shop last Jan. 25, 2012, where it exploded. Bisaya, Toralba and two other civilians were killed in the process while Mayo and several others were injured.
During the course of the investigation, Purisima said survivors of the bus blast identified Mayo as the man who carried the sack. Toralba allegedly boarded the Newman Goldliner bus with Mayo before the explosion.
Chief Superintendent Benito Estipona, former chief of the special investigation task group that probed the bus bombing, said the issuance of the arrest warrant against Mayo showed that probable cause was established during the preliminary investigation to charge Mayo for the bus bombing.
Estipona said when Mayo’s locker at the SAF barracks was searched, investigators found another 81-mm mortar round. Mayo, according to Estipona, allegedly collected mortar rounds as “souvenirs.”
Meanwhile, the motive for the Newman Goldliner bus bombing has yet to be established by investigators, who initially ruled it as being part of a “destabilization” plot.
The Newman Goldliner bus was traversing EDSA’s northbound lane near its intersection with Gil Puyat Avenue when it exploded at around 2 p.m.
A large hole underneath the bus was seen after the explosion, prompting police to speculate that the explosive device was placed under the passenger seat in the middle of the bus.