MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – A female law student lost both her legs while another one had to have one of her legs amputated following the blast that hit the final day of the 2010 Bar exams in Manila on Sunday.
Doctors amputated both legs of one of the victims, Raissa Laurel, because of severe injuries caused by an explosion outside the De La Salle University (DLSU) campus in Taft Avenue, Manila.
The 25-year-old Laurel, a 2nd year law student at San Sebastian College, was among the 44 people injured in a melee between alleged warring fraternities.
She is now recovering at Philippine General Hospital’s (PGH) intensive care unit.
Writing her answers to questions from ABS-CBN's Julius Babao, Laurel said that she was in the “wrong place at the wrong time.”
She, however, was thankful for being given a chance for a “second life.”
She said a bomb placed inside a small box exploded in front of her. However, she did not see who threw the bomb.
Laurel plans to continue her studies.
“I still want to become a lawyer someday,” she said in handwritten notes she gave to ABS-CBN News.
Her father, Roberto Laurel, was in tears while he described the pain of knowing that her daughter lost her legs.
“Another doctor, ‘yung anesthesiologist niya… approached me and explained, and he told me that my daughter would [live to] be a lawyer. So that was the happiest news last night,” he said.
“Naaawa ako, pero she has that spirit of....definitely, one day she will become a lawyer. Iyon pong spirit na iyon, at ang kanyang ambisyon, I hope it is not totally ruined with what has happened to her,” he added. “At least she would live, but I know na yung dating… confidence, I don’t know if she could gain back that confidence.”
He urged the government to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Gawan po natin ng aksyon ang pangyayaring ito. We are in a civilized world, and I believe that with what has happened yesterday, anarchy na po ang nangyayari eh… I appeal to the government, most especially to the Supreme Court… I’m sorry if I’m barking at the wrong tree pero sa tingin ko, sa inyo po ito, tigilan na po natin ang ganito,” Laurel said.
He thanked people who donated blood for her daughter.
The donors include Raissa’s classmates, friends, and Private First Class (Pfc.) Arnold Delanatar and Pfc. Alfeo Jordan.
The 2 soldiers said they do not know the victim personally, and only heard word that she needed blood transfusion. They waited for 8 hours at the PGH to donate blood.
Jordan said they felt bad over what happened to the bombing victim. “Wala naman siyang kasalanan,” he added.
Delantar said Raissa thanked them by waving at them.
Two other female law students who were also hit by the blast are still confined at the Manila Doctors’ Hospital (MDH).
One of them had to have her left leg amputated. Doctors, who declined to reveal her name, said they are still trying to save her right leg and left hand.
The 2 victims suffered shrapnel and burn wounds, doctors said. They are set to go under the knife again on Wednesday.
Twelve blast victims, who are students of San Beda College, were brought to the MDH. Seven were still receiving treatment, as of this writing.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona on Monday condemned the acts of violence, and ordered the Supreme Court Security, the Manila Police District (MPD), and the National Bureau of Investigation to go after those behind the incident.
MPD officer-in-charge Chief Superintendent Roberto Rongavilla said police received information that a man “wearing a t-shirt with Greek letter emblem ‘Akrho’… threw the suspected bomb at [the] Tau Gamma fraternity.”
“Meron silang na-notice, itong ating mga witnesses, na iyong suspected na naghagis ng explosive ay may nakasulat na Akrho, at based sa investigation, ang target ay ang Tau Gamma Phi, kaya lang medyo na-missed nila ang target so natapon ito sa Alpha Phi Beta ng mostly San Beda law students,” Rongavilla said.
He added that police have secured a new video footage that may help shed light on the incident.
He said police are still trying to determine the type of explosive used in the incident.
A witness told ABS-CBN News that before the explosion, he saw a group of men in the area who were covering their faces.
When people tried to accost the group, one of the men allegedly pulled out a grenade.
“Sumisiksik po siya sa mga tao, tapos nakita namin na meron po siyang dinukot sa bag niya na Granada, tapos hinugot, tapos ginanon niya po niya sa ilalim. Pagkababa niya po, bigla na pong sumabog,” said the witness.
People went after the alleged bomber and cornered him.
An ID found on the man showed his name as Jed Carlo Lazaga of the University of San Jose Recoletos in Cebu.
He was reportedly wearing a jacket bearing the insignia of the Akrho fraternity.
The witness said they were not able to surrender the man to police because the suspects’ companions had a gun and threatened to shoot people.
Lazaga has reportedly approached police to file a mauling complaint.
“Inatasan ko nga ang hepe ng Station 9 to exhaust all available means na ma-invite nila ‘yung tao and makapagbigay-liwanag sa nasabing insidente,” MPD District 2 head Superintendent Ernesto Fojas said.
Fraternity head denies involvement
Alpha Kappa Rho fraternity national council president Jojo de Rosario, meanwhile, denied allegations that one of their members was behind the blast.
He said Lazaga is not a member of their fraternity.
He added that Akrho officials would immediately know if their members are involved in the incident.
“We’re trying to professionalize the organization. Walang aggression na mag-start sa amin,” del Rosario said.
He said he was in the area during the incident to support Beta Sigma Lambda fraternity members, who were having their exams.
Del Rosario said he was crossing Taft Avenue when he heard an explosion.
“Biglang may sumigaw na babae, na sabi niya, ‘harangin niyo ‘yun, harangin nyo.’ Ang nakita ko, dumaan sa akin, tumatakbo,” he said.
He claimed that he tried to block the unidentified man, whose face was covered with a large handkerchief.
“Noong nahawakan ko yung likod, naramdaman ko na may sumuntok sa akin sa likod. Sa may katabi niya, nakita kong nakatutok sa akin na baril,” he said. “Pinutok sa akin, pero hindi pumutok… hindi na sana siya makakapiglas kung nahawakan ko siya eh. Eh ang problema, may kasamahan pala.” - reports from Julius Babao, Gretchen Malalad, Maan Mapacagal, Apples Jalandoni, and Alex Santos ABS-CBN News