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PNP eyes ‘narco terrorism’ in Davao blast

President Rodrigo Duterte visits the blast site along Roxas night market in Davao City on September 3. Presidential Photographers Division/Robinson Ninal

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) is looking at all angles in the Davao City bombing, including the possibility of “narco terrorism.”

PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa mentioned on Monday that drug lords might have funded the rebel group Abu Sayyaf as retaliation for the campaign of the government against illegal drugs.

“Itong mga Abu Sayyaf they kidnap people for money, they can also bomb people for money. Pera-pera lang sila,” Dela Rosa said in a press briefing at Camp Crame.

READ: Davao blast: IED detonated via cellphone

“So, kung ako mayaman na drug lord pwede ko bayaran ang Abu Sayyaf (at sabihin na) ‘sige bomba kayo, you don't have to kidnap people,’ after all mga terrorista ang mga ito... They are after terrorism,” he added.

Initially an Islamic extremist group, the Abu Sayyaf has been engaged in extortion and kidnap-for-ransom for more than a decade.

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Dela Rosa further explained that the drugs lords who could have funded the bombing are “not only from Bilibid (New Bilibid Prison).

The Abu Sayyaf earlier claimed responsibility to the bombing on Friday, but later backtracked and denied their involvement in the incident that took at least 15 lives and injured more than 70 persons. A spokesperson reportedly said an allied group, Daulat Ul Islamiya, was behind the blast as a sympathy attack.

The Abu Sayyaf were the initial suspects since government troops have been on an offensive against them in Sulu. Dela Rosa has not written the group off as suspects.

READ: PNP: No Abu Sayyaf threat in Metro Manila

“Still, hindi natin ma-discount na ginawa nila ‘yan to ease the tension of the ongoing military and police operations against them,” the PNP chief said.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday declared a nationwide "state of lawlessness” following the bombing, but Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo clarified that the executive order was being drafted even before the incident. The Palace has yet to release the official declaration.

Authorities are still on high alert to deter attacks from different groups.

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