6 killed, 48 hurt in CDO bistro blast
Gerry Lee Gorit (The Philippine Star) - July 28, 2013 - 12:00am

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – At least six people, including a provincial board member, were killed and 48 others were wounded when a bomb exploded at a popular bistro here late Friday night.

Misamis Oriental provincial board member Roldan Lagbas was hit by shrapnel in the head, said Cagayan de Oro police chief Graciano Mijares.

The other fatalities were identified as lawyer Antonio Paredes, doctor Erwin Malanay, and pharmaceutical representatives Manny Falafox, Anthony Cañete, and Ryan Saso Estose.

Many of the wounded were representatives of pharmaceutical companies who were attending the mid-year convention of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP).

“We don’t have any suspects yet. Our joint investigation is ongoing,” Lt. Col. Leo Bongosia, spokesman for the Army’s 4th Infantry Battalion, said.

Bongosia said except for the threat on the life of Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno, they have not monitored any serious security concern in the city.

Initial investigation showed that the explosion, possibly caused by an improvised explosive, occurred after 11 p.m. at Kyla’s Bistro and Candy’s Café at the Rosa Rio Arcade in Limketkai Center.

Police said the explosive was placed in a backpack near the table where Lagbas and his companions were seated. Bomb fragments were recovered as far as 50 meters away from the table.

Moreno told ABS-CBN that at least two of the wounded were in critical condition.

Businessman Noel Arcenas, who owns an electronic shop at the shopping complex where the restaurant is located, said at least 100 people were inside the restaurant when the explosion occurred.

“I looked around and saw this ball of white smoke. People were running away bloodied and survivors were dragging at least seven or eight people away from the blast site,” Arcenas said.

The explosion broke glass panels, upturned tables and chairs, and damaged cars parked up to 30 meters away, reporters at the scene said.

Task force

A task force was created to track down the perpetrators of the bombing.

Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac said PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima has ordered Region 10 police director Catalino Rodriguez to conduct a manhunt and file multiple murder charges against the perpetrators.

Sindac said security in Cagayan de Oro has been tightened as police units were ordered to secure all places of heavy public convergence.

Butuan City police chief Senior Superintendent Nerio Bermudo also placed the city police on alert.

He ordered policemen to monitor public places in Butuan City like Gaisano Butuan Mall, the only mall currently operating in the city; Rizal Park, public markets, and bus and jeepney terminals.

It was the second bombing in Cagayan de Oro City in less than a year. Last October, an improvised explosive also went off in front of Maxandria Hotel, killing two persons and wounding two policemen. Intelligence reports showed that it was carried out by a group of militants deployed for a test mission.

DOH, medical groups condemn bombing

Health Secretary Enrique Ona has been monitoring the situation and ordered Department of Health (DOH) personnel to look after the wounded, said DOH Assistant Secretary and spokesman Eric Tayag.

“We condemn the bombing. It should not happen to anyone, be it a doctor or a medical representative. Nobody deserves to experience such a brutal act,” he said.

“The doctors were there to learn more about their field of specialization, to benefit their patients. But this was cut because of the bombing and this is saddening,” he added.

Maricar Limpin, former PCCP president, said the bombing was “highly deplorable” because it is affecting even the innocent people.

Philippine Medical Association (PMA) president Leo Olarte said the World Medical Association (WMA) is now having second thoughts about holding its convention in the Philippines before the end of the year following the incident.

Olarte said the WMA has asked the PMA if it is safe to send its member-doctors to the Philippines upon learning of the bombing.

“We condemn to the highest degree this dastardly act of violence against our people. A colleague, Dr. Erwin Malinay from Metro Manila, needlessly was instantly killed and many allied health workers were seriously injured in the blast,” he said.

The Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) and the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAPi) also condemned the attack.

“We strongly condemn assault to civil society with collateral damage to PCCP and strongly appeal for the government to investigate and to set guidelines for these unfortunate events to be avoided in the future,” said PCP president Precy Caguiao.

PHAPi president Rustico Jimenez urged the government to speed up the investigation so that justice will immediately be served to the victims.

Public support in probe sought

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez condemned what he described as the “dastardly and heinous bombing incident” and urged city folk to cooperate in the investigation.

Rodriguez also called on the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation to coordinate with the city government for a speedy and no-nonsense investigation of “this senseless bombing incident.”

“I urge persons who have some information on those responsible for this cowardly act to come out and provide the authorities with any information that could help in their investigation,” Rodriguez said, as he expressed his sympathies to the families of the fatalities and prayed for the early recovery of those hurt.

“We assure the peace-loving people of Cagayan de Oro City that we will not leave any stone unturned in pursuing the solution to this incident and in bringing those responsible to justice in order for peace and order to once again reign in the city,” he said.

“I also implore the Kagay-anons to remain calm and join hands together in prayer for the recovery of our beloved city. Cagayan de Oro City and the Kagay-anons are very resilient and I am confident that, together, we will pull through, help each other and move forward as one proud and peace-loving city,” he added.

Rodriguez also offered a cash reward for the arrest of the perpetrators of the bombing.

Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano and first district Rep. Peter Unabia also condemned the bombing and joined calls for a full investigation of the incident. – With Ben Serrano, Paolo Romero, Mike Frialde, Jaime Laude, Sheila Crisostomo, AP

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