ZAMBOANGA CITY - Local police filed criminal charges Monday against two suspects in the grenade explosion at a mosque in the village of Talon-Talon on Jan. 30.
Zamboanga City Police Director Senior Supt. Thomas Joseph Martir said cases of double murder and multiple frustrated murder were filed before the City Prosecutor’s Office against the two suspects, who were positively identified by a witness.
He said a witness saw the two suspects fleeing the blast site on board a motorcycle a few seconds before the explosion.
Two preachers were killed and four others were wounded in the mosque blast, which occurred just three days after twin explosions rocked Jolo Cathedral. Authorities earlier said the two incidents were not related.
"May witness tayo, isang witness, tapos may isang witness dito na pumunta rin sa akin, nagpunta sa barangay official then dinala dito, nagbigay siya ng kaniyang testimony," Martir said.
(We have a witness, then another witness came to me. He first went to a barangay official then was brought to me to give a testimony.)
"Ang nakita niya doon ay 'yung umalis ang dalawang suspect on board a motorcycle, then kilala niya rin po, at saka the day after, parang narinig niya na nag-usap sila kung sino 'yung nagtapon ng granada doon," he added.
(He saw the two suspects on board a motorcycle, he also knows them. The day after, he overheard them talking about who threw the grenade there.)
Martir said the witness personally knew the two suspects as they lived in same village just a few blocks away from the mosque.
He said the witness went outside their house to buy balut (fertilized duck egg) when he happened to encounter the two suspects who hurriedly left the area on board a motorcycle.
Martir declined to release the names of the two suspects as police waited for the court to issue a warrant for their arrest.
As to the motive behind the grenade attack, it would appear that the suspects were considered as peace spoilers, trying to take advantage of the violence in Jolo, Sulu and create a scenario that would serve their own agenda.
“Hindi ko lang ma-divulge ang motive, pero siguro sumakay lang sa panahong ito. Mga dati din kasi, mga dating nakakulong, kakalabas lang, so parang sumakay lang sa issue. “ Martir said, referring to the Jolo terror attack.
(I cannot divulge the motive, but it's possible they just wanted to create trouble amid what is happening. They used to be in jail, they have just been released, so it's possible they just wanted to ride on the issue.)
Martir said the two suspects are not affiliated with any terrorist group operating in Mindanao, though they were implicated in murder and frustrated murder cases years back until their release from prison on 2016.
Despite limited evidence against the suspects, Martir was optimistic that they have a strong case against them, pointing to the witness testimony.
The mosque reopened on Friday, just two days after the incident.