Palawan Bombing suspect profile: Commander Cobra Ex-rebel 'likely' suspect -MNLF
Puerto Princesa - Police in Palawan have in custody, Hiya Hassan, who according to media reports is also known as Commander Cobra. Hassen in the late 1970's was active in Moro insurgent activities of the Moro National Liberation Front in Southern Palawan.
The MNLF which has largly reintegraited into Philippine society in the 1990's after a peace agreement. Hassan is no longer a member of the group and may be part of a faction engaged "activities" in Palawan the military and the groups local leader on Palawan say.
Arrested Sunday, Hassan, was taken into custody by police officers under of the National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group. Police say his daughter's cellular phone was used in sending warning and scare text messages to a local bus company.
The bombs that exploded Maudy Thursday went off near a bus terminal in Puerto Princesa and a drop off point for the transport company in El Nido in Palawan.
MNLF condemns bombings disowns Hassan
"He is no longer with the MNLF" Al Babao, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front leader on Palawan - who has been active in helping reintegrating former rebels into civil society has deneid the organization has had any role with Hassan nor the recent bomb attacks in Palawan.
Mr. Babao a local leader of muslim community and former member of a regional assembly of muslim mindanao representing Palawan condemned the bombing. "We live in peace here - we reject violence and condemn this attack. We have never used any violence in Palawan this is zone of peace for us here." the former ARMM representative said.
In an interview Babao said that the suspect is in custody as is the daughter of "commander cobra", the local leader who settled in Palawan decades ago said no profiling took place. There is evidence and his legal rights are assured we hope this is the end of this and nothing else happens. We will cooperate with law enforcement and never allow anyone in our membership here to engage in these actions."
Babao, also said he believes the attack may have been in part a diversion versus Police efforts to arrest suspects in the murder of a local environmental activist. "It may have been a diversionary tactic."
Hagedorn: Bomb maker local but trained in IED making
Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn said his cities investment in CCTV systems at major public areas made the investigation easier for Police and the government.
"We are studing the video images and the blast was seen on our city police CCTV system." Hagedorn said he is also concerned that the goal of the attack was to damage the image of the city which is major tourism revenue earner for the country.
"If the goal was to scare off tourists - they failed we actually are currently having a record number of tourists arrivals - some are concerned but since police, local government, and military have quickly shown we work well together - there has been no significant drop in bookings or arrivals." Hagedorn said speaking on a cable tv news channel in Manila on Monday.
Biggest "Boom" is rapidly growing is tourism:
Over 515,000 tourists have come to the city in first quarter of 2012. Local businesses have earned an estimated 4.2 billion pesos in sales and tourist income. it is projected Palawan tourism will top 2 million visitors by 2014 - as more and more resorts and development projects are put up in Puerto Princesa and other tourism spots.
"We even had to help some of the investigators from Manila and journalists who came here to cover this story find places to stay since almost 100% of the hotels in Puerto Princesa are fully booked." Hagedorn told reporters.
"It is tragic people were hurt in this case - it is bad that many people are trying to damage our peoples livelyhood. But we will overcome this and as people learn that Local Government the Police and National government act quickly to solve problems people will continue to come." the Mayor said.
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