Grenade blast rocks GenSan gas station owned by Kapa founder

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — A grenade exploded on Sunday evening at a gas station here owned by a founder of an alleged investment scam while another grenade was recovered near the office of a cooperative that was involved in a similar dubious activity.

Col. Aden Lagradante, city police director, said Monday no one was reported hurt in the explosion, which happened around 9:43 p.m. at the vicinity of Jorey gasoline station in Purok 3, Barangay Katangawan.

Jorey stands for Joel and Reyna Apolinario of the controversial Kapa Community Ministry International Inc., a registered religious group that operated an illegal investment scheme in parts of the country.

Citing accounts from gas station employees identified as Britchie Palmares and Oliver Namit, Lagradante said they were attending to some chores when they suddenly heard a loud explosion similar to a firecracker.

The police official said workers immediately inspected the scene of the blast and found a safety lever of a grenade.

Lagradante said responding operatives confirmed that the explosion, which did not cause any damage, was caused by a grenade.

Prior to the incident, he said an MK2 grenade was found around 5 p.m. at a vulcanizing shop situated beside the office of Metro GenSan Cooperative along the national highway in Barangay Lagao.

The grenade was discovered by the owner of the shop identified as Mateo Esler Jr. while he was cleaning the area. The explosive was safely retrieved at the site by elements from the city police’s explosives and ordnance disposal team.

Lagradante said he ordered investigators to dig deeper into both incidents and identify the possible motives as well as the suspects.

“There’s a big possibility that these are due to the investment scams. But we’re also looking at other angles,” he said in an interview.

He appealed to victims of such activities to file the necessary complaints and “not to place the law into their own hands.”

In the past weeks, victims of various investment scams mobbed and ransacked properties of their alleged founders and agents.

Last month, the National Bureau of Investigation said residents here and neighboring provinces already lost around PHP2.45 billion from illegal investment schemes that proliferated in the area.

Kapa and other dubious investment schemes were ordered closed in June by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Apolinarios, who are facing multiple complaints for running a Ponzi-like investment scheme at a monthly interest payout of 30 percent, have since gone into hiding.

Metro GenSan Cooperative, which solicited investments at an interest rate of 40 percent, is currently the subject of complaints after failing to make the payouts promised to its members.  Richelyn Gubalani / PNA –