Multiple murder, frustrated murder cases filed vs 9 Davao blast suspects

DAVAO CITY — The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) filed on Wednesday multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder cases against one identified suspect, five John Does and three Jane Does over the Sept. 2 bomb explosion at the Roxas night market that left 15 dead and 69 wounded.

There were 46 complainants/witnesses for the cases. Of the 46, there were eight complainants who witnessed the incident; seven statements from the families of seven fatalities, and 31 from those injured.

CIDG regional director Leonardo Edilberto, Davao City Police director Michael John Dubria and Regional Police deputy director for operations Sr. Supt. Valeriano de Leon led the filing of the cases at 5:20 p.m. at the City Prosecution Office (CPO).

Though the prime suspect has already been identified, the officials would not name him so as not to jeopardize future operations for his arrest.

Edilberto only said the suspect is not from Davao. He also declined to provide details whether the suspect is linked to a known terror group in Mindanao.

De Leon, who heads the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Night Market said the prime suspect is the man described by witnesses as the one who brought and left the bag with the explosive device.

The description of the suspect also matched the description given by a taxi driver, who surfaced after he saw the cartographic sketch released by the police. The taxi driver has become a vital witness.

It was learned that the suspect and two females were passengers of the taxi driver from the Ecoland terminal. They alighted at the Roxas night market.

While on the way to Roxas, the driver heard a conversation between the male suspect and the two female suspects regarding the bag. At one point, the suspect also took off his face mask for a “personal thing”.

According to de Leon, the driver’s account was good and even corroborated the statements of the witnesses. The driver’s statement even strengthened their intelligence report.

As to the John and Jane Does, de Leon said they will be identified in the course of the investigation.

Dubria said that even with the filing of the cases, their investigation will continue to find the suspect and identify his cohorts, including the mastermind of the bomb attack.

Dubria would not confirm or deny if the suspect has links with the arrested vice mayor of Talitay, Maguindanao, Abdul Wahab Sabal. He said they have nothing to say about Sabal who was arrested in Cotabato and is currently in Camp Crame.

“Our investigation is local and concentrated on the bombing,” he told reporters during a press conference at the Davao City police office on Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, City Prosecutor Nestor Ledesma has created a special panel of prosecutors to conduct the preliminary investigation on the cases. The team was created to focus on the cases for the prompt filing of charges.

Ledesma however would not name the members of the team to keep any group from pressuring them.

He also revealed that two prosecutors have been assisting the law enforcers in building up the cases. This was an order from Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre. They are Prosecutors Sharuddin Sencio of the City Prosecution Office and Nestor Palma of the Regional State Prosecution Office.

Ledesma however said Sencio and Palma would no longer take part in the preliminary investigation to avoid prejudgment and bias. Lilian Mellejor/PNA/