UPDATES earlier report: w/ bomb expert comments on type
Manila – Officials at the Department of Local Government in the Philippine capitol reached via cell phone SMS confirmed two explosions in Palawan Island.
One rocked the popular resort town of El Nido in Northern Palawan. While a second blast hit near a public market and gasoline station in the islands sole city of Puerto Princesa.
Reports from Palawan to officials in Manila say there were no fatalities in the blasts which occurred outside a tourist inn in the Poblacion district of El Nido from what appears to have been a IED in a garbage can.
While the second explosion was on a tricycle in Puerto Princes City. The explosive device has been examined by experts from the Police, Military, and Justice department. Photo’s sent to counter terror officials here say the ‘signature’ matches more the type of explosives used in the central visayas.
Political act not mass casualty – experts
At least three bomb experts one foreign and two from the Philippines note that the types of explosive and location of devices says a lot in this particular case.
One expert who examined the report and photos said, "It’s more of a chaos effect – or tactical blast than a destructive type. Placing the bomb in a sack muffles blast radius the same with the one in garbage can. Also no flacettes or extra fragments – this was more for boom than blast but it is still deadly if your next to it." a senior investigator told mikeinmanila over the phone.
The locations of the devices indicated that the goal was to create chaos or injure and not cause deaths or widespread fatalities leading investigators to believe the attacks seem to be more of a political nature rather than targeting specific more crowded areas.
Another counter expert on Palawan says, "We see this more as typical of political terror to sow chaos rather than those whose goal is the kill or maim. It seems more local than anything else." A local leader told mikeinmanila "But we have asked manila and US forces here on a exercise to help investigate this to find out what happened."
4 hospitalized 1 critical
At least three people were hospitalized with serious injuries one more is in critical condition. Per locals in Palawan who are reporting on social networking sites about the blasts and locals also are largely in the dark as most local radio and tv stations are off the air while Holy Thursday and Good Friday is observed.
Gerry Ortega murder case diversionary tactic? – PNP
Last month charges were formally filed versus a mayor and his brother and former governor and defeated congressional candidate as well as three others for the murder of a local journalist and activist for their alleged role in the crime.
Some are pointing to groups out to divert attention from this case as likely behind the bomb blasts. In a audio message from hiding the former governor Joel T. Reyes had already mentioned a bomb attack being blamed on him from march and also claimed he was the victim of political persecution.
Reyes: denied ‘bomb blasts’ as political gimmick even before this explosion
Ex-Gov. Reyes and his brother, Marjo the mayor of the town of Coron in the Calamianes group of islands were declared fugitives from justice by the Philippine Secretary of the Interior and Local Govt’s Jesse Robredo and Justice Secretary Leila De Lima after they failed to heed a deadline to surrender and face the criminal complaints against them.
The supporters of the Reyes brothers have denied that the pair are ;avoiding prosecution’ but according to Rodolfo Bonoan a elected member of the provincial assembly are preparing for their case and fully want to face the charges versus them.
US TROOPS Bilateral exercises not ruled out as target
Local officials while worried also the current ongoing Balikatan exercises with thousands of US troops might be drawing out some groups opposed to the US holding exercises on Palawan Island.
While no claims of responsibility have been made for todays attacks and the alleged accidental explosion in march – some local business leaders are worried the impact on tourism would have on the island province.
Per officials in Manila the types of blast matched a similar explosion that took place in march in a parking lot of a popular tourist destination in at a beach area near the world famous underground river.
The statement conflicts with an earlier statement by local officials that the blast was caused by a defective cigarette lighter. "What is interesting is we never openly said the explosion at the parking lot in Sabang beach was a bomb. Now someone in hiding suddenly called it a bomb and said to be on the look out for things like this." A city police investigator said a transcript of a audio recording is being closely studied by authorities who downplayed a small explosion similar to todays in the hopes of drawing out the perpetrator.