JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday claimed that a group of terrorists that espouses anti-Chinese sentiments was behind the plot to bomb the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 and other establishments.
She said the other bombing targets include the SM Mall of Asia owned by Henry Sy, who was recently declared the country’s richest man by Forbes Magazine, and the main office of D.M. Consunji Inc. in Makati City.
DMCI is a construction firm owned by David Consunji, a Chinese-Filipino who is said to be the sixth richest man in the country.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed charges of illegal possession of explosives against the three suspects arrested on
Monday while assembling explosives at the parking lot of NAIA 3.
Those charged include the self-proclaimed leader of the group, Grandeur Pepito Guerrero, 43.
The other suspects are Emmanuel San Pedro, 22, of San Rafael, Bulacan, and Sonny Yohanon, 25 of Oas, Eastern Samar.
De Lima said investigators are verifying if some influential personalities are behind Guerrero’s group.
Guerrero is a supervisor of a security agency assigned at a multi-national garment factory in Bulacan while San Pedro and Yohanon are security guards.
De Lima said Guerrero’s group is an ultra-rightist that considers China and the oligarch taipans engaged in monopolistic business practices and illegal mining as its arch enemies.
The group initially plotted to launch a terror campaign on August 25 to coincide with the celebration of National Heroes Day but they opted to reset it until their arrest on Monday.
“They intended to set off bomb and explosive devices at the NAIA Terminal 3, open fire at the Chinese Embassy and the DMCI building in the early morning of September 1, to be followed by an explosion at the SM Mall of Asia once it opens on the same day,” the Justice chief told reporters.
Recovered from the suspects were improvised incendiary devices and other documents including Guerrero’s prepared public message which he intended to release to the media once they complete their mission.
The prepared “manifesto” of Guerrero showed that his group is composed of former and active military soldiers, former members of the New People’s Army, Moro National Liberation Front and civilians.
The group views the actions of China at the West Philippine Sea as an intrusion into Philippine sovereignty.
NBI anti-crime chief Rommel Vallejo said the bomb was made from gasoline placed inside a plastic bottle that could trigger explosion especially in a closed areas like toilets. A wick was connected to the plastic bottle and it could explode within eight seconds.
But Oliver Lozano, legal counsel for Guerrero and his companions, said his clients were set up by a certain Norberto Maranga, the driver of the white Toyota Revo (WMK 129) found at NAIA Terminal 3.
Lozano told The Times that Guerrero was not at NAIA when NBI agents arrested the two co-accused.
“I think Maranga and the informant of NBI are the one and the same person. Guerrero was somewhere in Magallanes in Makati City when the agents went to the airport. Maranga texted Guerrero to go to the airport,” Lozano said.
“Maranga suddenly disappeared. Where is he now? That’s why some media reported that four persons were arrested and that included Maranga,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday assured the Chinese Embassy in Manila that the government has not directed any group to attack Chinese or Chinese interests in the country.
The Chinese Embassy urged the Philippine government to thoroughly investigate the case.
“We hope and believe the Philippine side will take effective measures to ensure the security of the Chinese Embassy and staff, as well as all Chinese nationals residing in the Philippines,” it said.
The British government also on Tuesday raised the international threat of terrorism to the country from “substantial” to “severe.”
In a travel advisory, it said the threat level “means that a terrorist attack is highly likely” but not imminent.
London reminded the Filipino community in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland to heed the government’s warnings, monitor government information channels and the general media for further developments and updates on the situation and remain vigilant and take general precautions for personal safety.
WITH BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON