MANILA - Investigators claim they have identified the individual who hired a courier service to deliver the explosive that went off and killed 2 persons in the capital's Quiapo district last Saturday, the head of the Metro Manila police said Monday.
"Mayroon po tayong iniimbestigahan d'yan. Of course, mayroon pong log iyan, at 'yan ang iniimbestigahan natin," Director Oscar Albayalde, chief of the National Capital Police Regional Police Office, said in an interview with Umagang Kay Ganda.
(We have a lead on that. Of course, it has a log and we are investigating that.)
The bomb, Albayalde said, was picked up by a delivery man of ride-hailing company Grab around the SM Manila area and delivered to the Quiapo office of Muslim cleric, Nasser Abinal.
The Grab employee and the man who received the package were killed when the bomb went off.
As police were searching the blast site late Saturday, another explosion rocked the area, possibly from a second bomb planted earlier.
Albayalde said the bomb was apparently intended for Abinal, a government tax officer for the Manila region.
Abinal was not at the office at the time of the blasts.
Albayalde admitted that a fake name may have been used by the person who sent the bomb through Grab.
He urged ride-sharing firms to tighten security checks to ensure that their services will not be used in crimes.
"Dapat alam na siguro nila sinong nagpapadala ng package and of course, there should be a declaration already kung anong laman ng package," he said in an inspection of the blast site on Monday.
"Probably, ipa-pack nila iyun right in front of an employee nila to make sure kung anong laman talaga ng package, especially iyung ganyang malalaki."
(They should check who sent the package and there should be a declaration of its contents. They could probably require packages to be prepared right in from of an employee.)
NO TERROR TIES
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa meanwhile reiterated that Saturday's blasts were not linked to terrorism, contrary to the claim of the Islamic State group, which said it staged the explosion.
"Terrorism is designed to sow fear and terror sa maraming tao. Pero halata naman na ang package is intended para sa isang tao, si Atty. Abinal. Very clear na doon pinasabog noong natanggap na ang package sa kanyang lugar. Para sa kanya lang talaga iyun," Dela Rosa told radio DZMM.
(It is obvious that the package was intended for a specific person, Atty. Abinal. It very clear that the bomb only went off when the package was delivered to his office. It was really for him.)
Dela Rosa said investigators are looking into whether Abinal was targeted for personal reasons, his work or his religion.
He also denied that the attack was linked to an explosion that injured 14 people in Quiapo just a week ago, as Southeast Asian leaders were meeting for a summit a few kilometers away.
The earlier April 28 explosion was an apparent act of revenge against a stall owner who allegedly mauled a minor, Dela Rosa said.
He added that police have arrested a brother-in-law of the minor, identified as Abel Macaraya, who allegedly issued threats against the stall owner.
TENSION STILL HIGH
Tension however remained high after the latest blasts, with police cordoning off the area again on Sunday after a suspicious bag was spotted.
A bomb disposal robot later established it was a false alarm.
Police on Monday morning continued to scour the area for possible hidden explosives, said Manila police chief, Senior Supt. Joel Coronel.
"Mayroon pa po tayong i-clear na area. May mga possible pong pinaglagyan ng exposive devices," Coronel said in a separate DZMM interview.
Police have also deployed additional personnel in Quiapo as investigators conduct forensic tests on the bomb fragments recovered from the blast site, added Coronel.
"Hinihingi po namin ang tulong ng mamamayan dahil hindi naman po namin kayang bantayan ang bawat sulok ng Maynila. Kung mayroon po silang nakitang kahina-hinalang kilos, kahit anong tao, o gamit na iniwan, sana po ipagbigay-alam po sa amin," he said.
(We ask for the public's help as we cannot guard every part of Manila. If they observe any suspicious person or unattended package, they should report it right away.)
-- With reports from Zhander Cayabyab and Micheal Joe Delizo, DZMM