300-kg bomb chemicals, components seized in Zamboanga

RJ Rosalado, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 20 2017 06:47 PM

More than 300 kilograms of bomb chemical and other components were seized in one of the stilt houses in the coastal village of Arena Blanco, Zamboanga City Sunday afternoon.

The operation was led by the Regional Special Operations Group under the supervision of Chief Superintendent Billy Beltran, the director of the Philippine National Police covering the Western Mindanao areas.

Police said 15 sacks of ammonium nitrate, 75 blasting caps and time fuse were recovered inside the house of Pagal Aliasan, 25 years old and a native of Isabela City, Basilan.

Aliasan was arrested by the raiding team after a buy-bust operation inside his house. 

The authorities used an asset, who served as poseur-buyer, and successfully bought a repacked ammonium nitrate in a plastic bag with four blasting caps and time fuse.

In an interview, Aliasan admitted he was repacking and selling the regulated chemical and bomb components to the local fishermen in Barangay Arena Blanco and nearby villages, to be used as an improvised explosive device.

This homemade bomb has been used by some fishermen in blast fishing, a tradition that is widely known in Mindanao.

However, government policies and regulations have prohibited this fishing tradition, as it destroys the coral reefs and other maritime ecosystems.

Aliasan has denied any links to the terrorist groups in Mindanao, saying the regulated bomb chemical and other components were not meant to be used for any terror plot in Zamboanga City.

P03 Noel Erasga, the team leader of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit, said the ammonium nitrate is a regulated chemical, usually being used in agriculture as high nitrogen fertilizer.

However, this chemical compound has also been used by the local terrorist groups as a main component in producing improvised explosive devices.

In the past few bombing incidents in Zamboanga City, ammonium nitrate was among the bomb components used by the terrorists. 

Erasga also said Aliasan failed to present supporting documents to prove that he legally bought this regulated chemical.

He said the suspect bought the 15 sacks of ammonium nitrate in Tawi-Tawi through the black market.

Police has filed a case of illegal possession of explosives against Aliasan, while the confiscated bomb chemicals and other components were stored separately in secure areas.