The Department of Justice (DOJ) is poised to file in court criminal charges against three arrested suspects in the Davao City bombing which killed 15 people and injured several others on September 2.
The three suspects — TJ Tagadaya Macabalang a.k.a Abu Tufael; Wendell Apostol Facturan a.k.a. Muraimin; and Musali Mustafa a.k.a. Mus/Abu Hurayra — were subjected to inquest proceedings before a DOJ panel of prosecutors on Friday.
The panel is composed of Senior State Prosecutor Peter Lim and Assistant State Prosecutors Susan Azarcon and Ferdinand Fernandez.
Following inquest proceedings, the panel is expected to file criminal charges in court within 36 hours from the suspects’ arrest unless the panel recommends further investigation.
The three were arrested in a checkpoint operation along Gov. Gutierrez Avenue in Cotabato City on October 4.
In a two-page letter, Chief Supt. Roel Obusan, Acting Director of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said complaints for violation of Republic Act 9516 (Illegal Possession of Explosives) and Republic Act 10591 (Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunitions) were filed against Macabalang, Facturan, and Mustafa.
The trio were heavily guarded by military personnel as they appeared before the DOJ panel of prosecutors for inquest.
Recovered from them were suspected components of an improvised explosive device (IED).
Among the items seized from the trio were one 9-mm submachine gun, a Cal .45 Colt Combat, an IED, and four cellphones.
Police personnel have verified that the three men do not have licenses to possess firearms. The Cal. 45 Colt Combat seized from them was not registered.
Among the confiscated cellphones was one containing footages of last month’s bombing in Davao City. The cellphones were turned over to the Anti-Cybercrime Group which will conduct forensic examination.
On Sunday, a military official said the bombing was ordered by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
One of the men arrested disclosed to officials that ASG leader Isnilon Hapilon was calling the shots when the so-called Maute Group carried out the September 2 bombing at a night market in Davao City.
Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año, Philippine Army commander did not say who among the three arrested suspects spilled the beans but based on the revelation, members of the terrorist group tasked the Maute group to carry out the bombing because of members of the group were trained by former members of the Jemaah Islamiyah like Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan, Dulmatin, Omar Patek, Sanusi and others.
“Doon sa kanilang debriefing, yung iba naman cooperative, for example nagkwento sila kung papano nila ginawa yung bombing, they planned the bombing about two weeks before, sa Cotabato nila pinlano pagdating ng may dala ng bomba galing ng Butig, Lanao (During their debriefing, some of them are cooperative. For example, they narrated how they planned the bombing. They planned the bombing about two weeks before in Cotabato. When they arrived in Davao they already have the bombs from Butig, Lanao),” Año said.
Although separated from the ASG, other terror groups like the Maute group recognized Hapilon as their “de factor leader.”
Año said the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) recognizes only one group in a region or country.
“Isa lang ang grupo dyan na nirerecognize ng ISIS. Hindi pwedeng may Abu Sayyaf, may Maute, may Tokboy. Dapat isa lang yan, kaya ang tawag nila dyan Daulat Ul Islamia yan yung umbrella organization nila, dyan nakapaloob dyan yung Abu Sayyaf, nakapaloob yung Maute, yung urban terrorist group at saka yung AKP, Ansarul Khilafah of the Philippines, yun, ang sabi nga dun sa briefing na to ease the pressure and divert the attention, divert the operation being conducted in Sulu and Basilan (The ISIS recognizes only one group. There should be no Abu Sayyaf, Maute or Tokboy. Only one should be recognized and that is Daulat Ul Islamia, their umbrella organization that was according to the briefing to ease the pressure and divert the attention, divert the operation being conducted in Sulu and Basilan,” Año explained.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Maute group has been trying to get the attention of the Islamic State as indicated in a video clip found in one of the seized mobile phones.
The Army commander said government forces are hunting down at least 10 more suspects involved in the Davao blast, nine of them members of the Maute group and one a member of AKP.