MANILA (2nd UPDATE) — A suspected improvised explosive device (IED) blew off inside a passenger bus along Gensan Drive in Koronadal City, South Cotabato on Thursday, leaving one person injured.
Police identified the wounded victim as Wilfredo Ilagan Tino, 59, a tricycle driver, who was hurt after debris from the explosion hit his head.
It was earlier reported that 5 were injured, but the police later clarified that only one person was hurt in the incident.
Tino was riding along the highway beside the bus when the suspected IED went off at around 12:30 p.m. This was also confirmed by Koronadal City Mayor Eliordo Ogena.
The victim was given first aid and sent to the nearest hospital.
"May isang na-injure ng tricycle driver, kasi nasa likod ng Yellow Bus. At sinubmit namin siya sa MRI to determine whether may damage sa ulo niya. Kasi ang reklamo niya, mukhang naapektuhan ang ear drum niya," Ogena told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
"Siniguro lang namin na talagang walang impact yung bomba sa kaniya," he added.
The explosion was caught on surveillance camera owned by a private company. It happened at the rear of the bus.
"Nagtataka rin ako bakit nakalusot yan. Ang pagkakaalam ko mahigpit naman yung mga bus dito. Bago ka umakyat, ini-inspect naman yan. Kung paano nakalusot, siguro that will be subject of an investigation also," said Ogena when asked where the IED could have been placed.
Ogena said the bus came from Tacurong City, where another explosion also happened around that time.
"Iniimbestigahan ito kasi, baka may koneksyon ito. Mahirap naman sabihin na coincidence eh. May sumabog din sa Tacurong, na ilang kilometro lang yan, mga more or less 30 kilometers away from Koronadal City," he said.
"Parang lumalabas it's orchestrated... to create an impact siguro," he added.
"We did not expect this to happen. Nabigla kami sa nangyari. Siguro, hihintayin ko na lang yung resulta, kung ano ang dahlia, ano ang motibo ng mga grupo."
The Philippine National Police (PNP)-South Cotabato Explosives and Ordnance Disposal and Canine Group immediately responded to the scene.
Ogena said there is unconfirmed information that a "very big armed group" is involved in the blast. He said politics may have nothing to do with the incident.
Declaring a state of emergency in the locality due to the incident is not being considered now since investigation is still ongoing, the mayor said.
TIGHTER SECURITY MEASURES
Following the explosion, the PNP Police Regional Office 12 has ordered all police stations under its command to deploy marshals in all bus terminals across the Soccsksargen region.
Regional Director P/BGen. Alexander Tagum also ordered to intensify security measures in all public areas where people usually converge, adding that all police personnel in the region are on "full alert."
He also encouraged the public to report to authorities any "suspicious individuals or activities."
The Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) Joint Task Force Central and 6th Infantry Division directed all their units to "intensify checkpoint operations and intelligence monitoring" with police.
"The bombing incident only shows that there are people who are ruthless that we need to be wary of. We will exert efforts so that we can identify who are the perpetrators of these incidents and pursue proper actions according to law," acting division commander BGen. Eduardo Gubat said in a statement.
— Reports from Chat Ansagay and Wheng Hidalgo
Editor's Note: Police clarified Thursday evening that only 1 person was injured in the blast, not 5 as previously reported.
— Report from Chat Ansagay