Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Suspect in Palawan blasts linked to ex-governor

MANILA, Philippines - A commander of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is being held for questioning for the twin blasts in Palawan last Maundy Thursday.

In a radio interview, Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn said Hiya Hassan alias Commander Cobra, has links to former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, who is wanted for the murder of broadcaster Gerry Ortega.

Hagedorn said the suspect admitted that he was an employee of Reyes’ wife, Palawan Vice Gov. Clara Reyes.

“He (Hassan) was with his daughter Jheramae along with 17 former MNLF members for their scheduled meeting with Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn when we invited him for questioning,” Maj. Neil Estrella, spokesman and chief intelligence for the Western Command (Wescom) said yesterday.

Hassan and 17 other MNLF members were gathered at a table at the Asturias Hotel in Puerto Princesa City, when military undercover agents dialed the number used by a texter in sending bomb threats prior to the twin blasts, and the cellular phone in front of Hassan rang. 

“When we asked who owns the cellular phone, Hassan admitted that it was his. That’s the time we moved in and took him (Hassan) in for questioning,” Estrella said.

Hassan and his group were to discuss their pending request for Hagedorn to give them a permanent place to stay complete with livelihood projects in Puerto Princesa City.

No cause for alarm – Mitra

 Palawan Gov. Abraham Mitra said the twin explosions were isolated and assured the public, including local and foreign tourists, of their safety.

Mitra said security measures are in place to prevent a repeat of the explosions and ensure the arrest of the perpetrators.

“The police continue to investigate it thoroughly to determine who are behind it and their motive,” Mitra told The STAR.

Mitra said the province’s Peace and Order Council (POC) would convene today to discuss the twin blasts and the security measures to be implemented.

Mitra said representatives of the Philippine National Police and the Wescom were invited to the POC meeting.

Inspector Grace Vic Gomba, spokesman for the Palawan Provincial Police Office, said two men were also taken into custody.

However, Gomba refused to identify the two men pending a background check on them.
”We still have to wait for the outcome of the probe before we could determine whether they should be charged for the crime or not,” he said.

A female cook at the resort was injured in the explosion in El Nido town while two civilians were injured in the blast at the Royal Express Bus station in Barangay San Jose, Puerto Princesa City.

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Jaime Laude/Cecille Suerte Felipe | The Philippine Star | April 10, 2012 | Article Link