AFP eyes 3 possible groups behind Zambo blast

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 25 2015 05:26 PM | Updated as of Jan 26 2015 05:28 PM

MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is not ruling out the possibility of other groups' involvement in the fatal bombing near a bus terminal in Zamboanga City last Friday.

"The Abu Sayyaf is a usual suspect but others can do it," said AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc of the explosion that killed two people and left 54 others injured.

Authorities earlier mentioned the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) as a potential suspect in the bombing because of a foiled plot to spring out one of their detained members, Bensar Indama, last week.

"It might be related to their failed plot to spring out one of their detained members. That is based on the revelation of the police," Cabunoc said.

The plot was foiled last week when soldiers, policemen and jail guards seized three firearms that would allegedly be used in the escape of Indama, while being smuggled into the Zamboanga City jail.

However, Cabunoc, citing military assessments, said the bombing could have also been carried out by other groups, such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

"There’s a group against the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law)," said Cabunoc in pointing to the BIFF as a possible suspect.

Congress is still deliberating on the BBL, which will pave the way for the establishment of a new political entity, in place of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) – as part of the peace agreement with the MILF.

Meanwhile, Cabunoc said the explosion could also be politically motivated, not ruling out the possibility of groups espousing violence to embarrass Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco.

"We know that (next year's) election is approaching. Some may want to discredit mayor Climaco," he said.

While the authorities are still in the process of investigation, Cabunoc said measures to prevent a repeat of the bombing are already in place.

''But we can't discuss them because they are operational (in nature). We have adopted counter-measures but we cannot discuss it (in public),'' he said.

AFP spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, meanwhile, said President Benigno Aquino III visited Zamboanga City on Sunday to check on the people displaced by last year's siege of the city by members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Padilla also said the President also had a close-door meeting with military officials to discuss issues confronting the AFP in Zamboanga City and in the Western Mindanao region in general.

Asked for the security adjustments made in the aftermath of last Friday's bombing, Padilla said: "We heightened our alert. We established checkpoints and pursuing measures that are already in place even before."