TWO days after the Armed Forces released their pictures and CCTV footage that suggested they were possible suspects in the bombing of the Jolo Cathedral which killed 21 people and wounded over 100 others, the Philippine National Police yesterday declared the four persons of interest innocent of the twin bomb attacks.
According to PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Bernard M. Banac, the four men were released on Wednesday night hours after they surfaced before PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group investigators to clear their names. PNP-CIDG director Chief Supt. Amador V. Corpus had ordered his men to thoroughly verify the identities and claims of the four as part of the ongoing investigation into the incident as ordered by PNP chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde.
The four decided to surface before police officials to clear their names after the military tagged them as possible suspects in the Jolo church bombing who hastily left the scene after the explosions.
Banac said that the four claimed they were mere bystanders in the area who instinctively ran for their safety after the two consecutive explosions at the Jolo Cathedral.
“Pagkatapos maberepika ang kanilang pagkakakilanlan ayon sa unang pagsusuri ay napatunayan nga na totoo ang kanilang sinasabi, beripikado ng iba pang mga tao, ay malaya rin silang nakaalis sa himpilan ng ating pulisya,” the PNP spokesperson said.
Banac said that none of the four men who surfaced matched the identity of an alias ‘Kamah,’ a brother of slain Abu Sayyaf leader Surakah Ingog who has been accused of involvement in the bombing in retaliation for the death of his sibling.
The Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command on Tuesday released a video of four teenagers who were suspected of carrying out the deadly bomb attack.
One of the four who was wearing a blue-green jacket was seen tinkering with a cellphone before giving the gadget to another companion. The four were seen running away moments after the blasts.
Military investigators have expressed suspicion that the mobile phone was used to detonate the powerful improvised explosive devices.
The images of the four young men were released by the AFP Western Mindanao Command through video-grab of the CCTV footages in and around the bombed site.
The CCTV footages showed the four teenagers entering the Cathedral and leaving the place one after another shortly before the mass started at 8 in the morning. Minutes after they left, the powerful improvised explosive device went off, apparently triggered by a cell phone call.