‘General,’ cohorts in NAIA bombing attempt charged
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - September 3, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A self-proclaimed “general” of “USAFFE” and two others have been linked to Monday’s foiled attempt to smuggle improvised explosives into the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), officials said yesterday.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Grandeur Pepito Guerrero, Emmanuel San Pedro and Sonny Yohanon have been charged for illegal possession of explosives following their alleged plot to bomb four targets, including the Chinese embassy, to demonstrate their anger against China.

Guerrero, alias Jojo, is the alleged leader of the group. He claimed to be a general of USAFFE, the acronym of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East during World War II.

De Lima said the three suspects were not charged for terrorism under Republic Act No. 10168 or the Human Security Act since investigators have yet to establish their real motive.

Found in their possession were four improvised incendiary devices (IID) and a .38 caliber revolver.

The three were arrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) following a tip off that they were about to plant an explosive at the NAIA.

The NBI said the group was also planning to plant explosives in establishments owned by Chinese.

Guerrero, who owns the Toyota Revo where the improvised explosive devices were seized at the NAIA 3 parking area, claimed a certain Norberto Barangga borrowed the vehicle from him.

San Pedro and Yohanon, on the other hand, said they were just asked to guard the vehicle but did not know what was inside it.

The three initially denied the charges but later claimed they are “Defenders of the Filipino people” and consider China and the “oligarch taipans” who are engaged in monopolistic business practices and illegal mining in the country as their arch enemies.

De Lima described the three as “misguided elements of our society.”

“Whatever is their purpose, if they are frustrated with the soft stance of the government vis-à-vis Chinese they are using the wrong method. We can say they are misguided elements of society. Whatever is the agenda, the fact is the plan is to create explosions, to cause panic. It cannot be avoided that there would be destabilizations in society, something that we could not afford at this point,” she said.

The three suspects were represented by lawyer Oliver Lozano during the investigation yesterday.

“The charge is baseless and the suspects are innocent,” he said.

Lozano argued the terrorism plot was absurd because if it was the case then it should have been a car bomb or a bazooka and not a rusty revolver.

He added the explosives seized from the suspects were just firecrackers intended for the coming New Year revelry.

Lozano, known as a lawyer and supporter of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, said the three were just fall guys in the reported destabilization plot.

He further claimed the bombing attempt could be part of a grand plan of those supporting the proposal to amend the Constitution and allow President Aquino to run for another term in 2016.

Out of the radar

Malacañang said the group was not exactly “out of the radar” of suspected threats to national security.

“Even if there have been no serious consequences as a result of what has been uncovered, we want to forestall or to impede any future attempt that might threaten the stability and peace and order of our land and communities,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

He said the NBI has background information on the suspects so the authorities were not exactly caught by surprise by the incident.

Coloma said President Aquino ordered a thorough investigation into the bomb attempt and everyone would just have to await its result.

But so far, the incident should not cause undue alarm as the possible dangers that the group could inflict had been thwarted.

“That is why the implications of what happened are being carefully studied,” he said.

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