Police are looking at a political angle behind the two blasts that rocked Palawan on Holy Thursday after Mayor Edward Hagedorn suggested that they look into various leads such as motives by political personalities.
Hagedorn told media that, “It’s tempting to conclude based on what we’ve known so far that this is an attack that has political motives beneath it.” However, he added that police investigators are still digging deeper to find the truth.
Another report from Bombo Radyo said authorities are also looking into a business angle.
While Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo said the blasts meant to sow terror, Hagedorn pointed out that the explosives, mostly explosive power, were not meant to result in widespread damage. Western Command commander Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban also said that the blasts weren’t similar to the style of Abu Sayyaf.
“Based on initial findings, the device used in the El Nido and Puerto Princesa are similar, are meant ‘ to alarm than harm’ (as no) shrapnel were recovered (in the crime scene),” Robredo said.
The first blast happened in El Nido and injured 25-year old resort cook Aiza Gay Martinez Mallari who was throwing garbage outside the resort. Police reportedly confirmed that it was triggered by a cellular phone based on evidence collected on the scene.
The explosion happened at 5:20p.m. in front of Entaula Beach Resort, Zone 3, El Nido Palawan.
Minutes after, another explosion occurred at North Highway Puerto Royal Express Bus Station, injuring Marivic Aria, 28, and Cenon Magdayo, 75. Both received minor injuries and bruises.
Since there was no hospital in El Nido and the clinic was not equipped to handle major accidents, Mallari had to go on a 6-hour trip to Puerto Princesa on board a private van arranged by her employer.
The evidence gathered at the first site are thought to be remnants of an improvised explosive device (IED).
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said the provincial police’s bomb disposal unit recovered positive and negative terminals, the metal case of a nine-volt battery, the case of a mobile phone and plastic bags as the IED container.
Because of the incident, the military had already declared a maximum security alert status in the province, especially in tourism areas.
Major Enrico Gil Ileto, 3rd Infantry Division’s spokesperson said, “Your soldiers will continue with its day-to-day peace and security operations to ensure the safe and secure observance of the Holy Week.”
The Philippine National Police have also deployed personnel to facilitate and monitor checkpoints and chokepoints.
Both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP have also boosted security measures in other tourist spots in the country included those in Central Philippines such as Boracay Island, Guimaras and Iloilo.
Effect on tourism
El Nido tourism officer Arvin Aquino told media that they are not yet sure about how the blasts would expect tourism. They are still about to count cancellation of bookings for the following months.
Romelyn Casumpang who manages tourism trips was quoted by Rappler.com, “We expect a big group next week. I hope they will still come despite this news. This is a peaceful place.” She said that she is hoping there would be no cancellations since they have already invested in boats.