At least two persons were killed, including a 3-year-old girl, and 13 others were wounded after improvised explosive devices (IEDs) went off along the coastal area of the village of Busbus in Jolo, Sulu Friday morning.
Jolo police chief Supt. Julpikar Sitin identified the fatalities as Javier Laho and Aldea Tating, three years old.
According to Sitin, an individual was fixing IEDs usually used in blast fishing when the explosives prematurely went off.
The blast was strong and powerful that it destroyed seven other nearby houses.
Post-blast investigators recovered from the site some residues of ammonium nitrate, one of the main components of the IEDs.
Police said Laho died on the spot while the three-year-old child succumbed to multiple wounds at the hospital.
Sitin said they are still collecting information from some witnesses to determine what triggered the explosives to explode prematurely.
Blast fishing remains rampant in the province of Sulu and other areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Local fishermen use this type of illegal fishing for faster and bigger catch.
Under Republic Act 10654, known as the Philippine Fisheries Code, fishing through explosives and noxious or poisonous substances is prohibited.
If proven guilty, violators will be ordered to pay no less than P30,000 for municipal fishing, and as a high as P3 million for large-scale commercial fishing. Violators will also face 5 to 10 years imprisonment.
The law also prohibits the mere possession of explosives that will be used in illegal fishing.