Army identify, charge suspect in Bukidnon bus blast

By Lilian C. Mellejor

DAVAO CITY, Dec 10 (PNA) –The deputy commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) has identified a commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) as behind the bombing of the Rural Transit bus in Maramag, Bukidnon on Tuesday.

Brig. Gen. Alexander Balutan, deputy commander of the EastMinCom, identified the suspect as one Garnet Lintang, a commander of the BIFF operating in Central Mindanao.

According to Balutan, BIFF was conducting a test mission for their new graduates.

The BIFF was the group linked to the international terrorist called Islamic state of Iraq and Syria or ISIS even pledging support to the terrorist group.

The bombing incident has claimed the lives of 11 people mostly students, two of whom died later in a hospital. The passenger bus owned by the Rural Transit Mindanao, Inc. (RTMI) left Wao in Lanao Del Sur, about 3:00 p.m. Tuesday en route to Cagayan De Oro City. The bus made a stop over to pick up passengers in front of the Central Mindanao University.

Balutan disclosed that forensic investigation showed the perpetrators used an 81mm mortar which was detonated with the use of a mobile phone.

As this developed, Balutan said they are filing multiple murder charges against Lintang while a hot pursuit operation is ongoing.

Balutan identified nine fatalities as Ken Valiente, Anita Santillan, Catherine Villahermosa, John Rey Valdesco, John Bernard Cunahap, Jonathan Balida, Mariel Pachacoso, Michelle Gonzaga, Michael Buctos, and one still unidentified.

Meanwhile, police and the military in Davao Region remain under heightened alert following the bombing incident. They are also fielding bus marshals to prevent bus bombings.

Speaking at the AFP/PNP press corps at Mandaya Hotel, Davao City Police Office (DCPO) Director P/Sr. Supt.Vicente Danao Jr., said police visiblity is being maximized, specifically in areas where there is convergence of people.

Danao said there are about 60 personnel from the Regional Public Safety Battalion that were sent to the DCPO to augment the present number of policemen in the city.

The AFP and the PNP are now asking the people of Davao City to stay vigilant and cooperate with all security measures. (PNA)


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