MANILA -- (3RD UPDATE) The supposed brother of a slain Abu Sayyaf leader who is suspected to have triggered the twin bombs at the Jolo Cathedral that killed at least 23 people has surrendered, the chief of national police said Monday.
Kammah Pae, alias Kamah, brother of bandit leader Surakah Ingog who died in 2018, is now in police custody after surrendering to the military over the weekend, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said.
Albaji Kisae Gadjdali (alias Awag), Radjan Bakil Gadjali (alias Radjan), Kaisar Bakil Gadjali (alias Isal), and Said Alih (alias Papong)--who all performed various roles in the incident--surrendered to the Special Investigation Task Group, said Albayalde.
"Forced surrender itong nangyari (is what happened) because of the massive operations being conducted," he told reporters in Camp Crame.
Kammah "is not admitting anything," but his accomplices pointed to him as the one who escorted the suicide bombers. "Hindi niya pwedeng i-deny 'yan," said Albayalde. (He can't deny that.)
An assembled improvised explosive device and components of a bomb were recovered in his home, said the police chief.
Department of Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said the 5 suspects have been named respondents in the cases for multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder and damage to property filed by the Sulu Police Provincial Office.
The suspects belong to a group of 22 Abu Sayyaf personalities led by Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, believed responsible for the terrorist attack at the Our Lady of Mt Carmel Cathedral during a Sunday Mass last January 27, the police chief said.
Authorities earlier said the Ajang-Ajang subgroup was inspired by the Islamic State and that it has pledged allegiance to the international terror group.
A bomb that went off inside the church during the Eucharistic celebration was followed by another explosion outside after troops descended to the area. Twenty-three were killed in the incident and 95 others were wounded, according to Albayalde's latest count.
The first bomb was detonated by a female and the second by a male. They are believed to have been an Indonesian couple, who according to witnesses, did not speak Tausug, said Albayalde.
The man was in the Philippines for about a year and his wife arrived only a few days before the bombing, he said.
Sawadjaan and 13 other suspects in the bombing remain at large, while 3 others, including the suicide bombers, have been killed, he said.
NOTHING TO DO WITH BANGSAMORO VOTE
Although the explosion came just days after parts of Mindanao voted for the ratification of a law creating a Bangsamoro region in the south, Albayalde said the explosions had nothing to do with the plebiscite.
"Nothing to do with BOL (Bangsamoro Organic Law) ito. It’s a plain act of terror itong nangyari sa Jolo," he said.
"This was being planned many years back, lalong lalo na yung cathedral na yun, talagang may specific threat 'yung cathedral na 'yun and all other churches dun sa lugar," he added.
One of the objectives in targeting the church is "for Christians and Muslims to fight, to create chaos and terror," said Albayalde.
The group could have also staged the bombing to gain international notoriety and receive funding from ISIS, he said.
State authorities will continue its "relentless" operations against the suspected terrorists in the south in keeping with the directive from President Rodrigo Duterte to launch an "all-out war" against them.
- with a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News