All police units in Central Mindanao alerted following Sunday blast at Cotabato cathedral

July 5, 2009 10:30 pm 

MANILA, July 6 – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Jesus Verzosa has alerted all police units in Central Mindanao following Sunday's bombing in front of the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral in Cotabato City to prevent similar incident elsewhere in the region.

Verzosa particularly directed Police Regional Office 12 (PRO-12) director Chief Supt. Josefino Cataluña to closely coordinate with the local crisis management committee headed by Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema.

"Our immediate concern at the moment is to attend to the casualties, particularly the 38 wounded victims who were brought to different hospitals,” said Senior Supt. Willie Dangane Sr., Cotabato City Police Director.

Dangane also urged the public to remain calm and avoid panic.

"At the same time, we are also initiating incident management measures to prevent the situation from getting out of hand. The last thing we need is a panic situation in other key cities in the region," Dangane said.

Police Director Felizardo Serapio Jr., PNP Director for Integrated Police Operations in Western Mindanao, meanwhile, has alerted Regional Directors in Central Mindano, Western Mindanao and ARMM to implement target-hardening measures and intensify intelligence operations to prevent similar incidents in other areas of Mindanao.

Latest reports reaching Camp Crame placed the casualty toll at five killed and 38 wounded as a result of the blast.

Post-blast investigation placed the seat of explosion at a lechon store and meat shop across the street from the cathedral gates.

Cotabato City police operatives have taken into custody a certain Rico T Aburva, 34, and a resident of Barangay Dalumangcob, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

Acording to Caraluña, the suspect was arrested inside the cathedral compound after witnesses pointed to him as among those responsible for the explosion.

Police investigators are also coordinating with officials of the nearby Central Bank office of Cotabato City for the possibility that the incident may have been recorded by the bank's security cameras. (PNA) LDV/MM

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