AFP, PNP confirm 1 of 2 Sulu suicide bombers to be Filipino

MANILA Police and military officials on Wednesday confirmed that one of two suicide bombers who perpetrated the attack at the tactical command post of the 1st Brigade Combat Team (1BCT) in Sulu last June 28 is a Filipino.

After thorough investigation and forensic examination, the Regional Crime Laboratory Office of the Police Regional Office 11 has revealed that one of the suspected suicide bombers in 1st Brigade Combat Team temporary headquarters in Indanan, Sulu last June 28 can be concluded as a Filipino, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson, Col. Bernard Banac and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in a joint statement at a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo.

The PNP Regional Crime Lab Office 11 (RCLO 11) said in a report that reference DNA standards were taken from Vilman Alam Lasuca and Alhussin Alam Lasuca, claimant mother and brother of one of the suspected bombers.

The DNA results examined by Maj. Florepes Pallado, RCLO 11 forensic DNA analyst, showed that there is 99.99 percentage probability match on the DNA samples taken from Vilman Lasuca and the alleged suicide bomber, who was identified as Norman Lasuca.

"Hence, it can be concluded that one of the alleged suicide bombers is the son of Vilman Alam Lasuca," the RCLO 11 said in its laboratory report.

On the other hand, the identification of the second suspected bomber is still underway as the AFP and PNP continue to collect DNA samples from possible known family and relatives and to establish match on its identity.

Curbing terror threat

Despite these findings, the AFP and PNP assured the public that they are exerting all efforts to defeat the threat of terrorism in Mindanao.

The AFP and the PNP would like to allay the fears of our countrymen notwithstanding this development where we can confirm and is now confirming the incidence of the first suicide bombing in the Philippines perpetrated by Norman Lasuca, Arevalo said.

The AFP, for its part, vowed to "pursue the principals behind this dastardly and cowardly act �relentlessly and untiringly �to bring justice and legal retribution for the victims of this crime."

We wish to highlight the fact that the AFP has its keen focus on Sulu to defeat the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) put a stop to the terrorist activities and atrocities they commit against the people of Sulu, in Mindanao and the country, he added.

In compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte's order to crush the ASG bandits, the AFP has earlier deployed a Marine Battalion Landing Team, and another Army Infantry Battalion in Sulu.

The military spokesperson said aside from the already existing forces in Sulu, the 11th Infantry Division was activated to intensify the conduct of a surgical and focused military operation.

This is aside from additional Naval and Air assets to be deployed in the province.

Arevalo also noted that the military is pursuing the continuing National Action Plan on Preventing and Countering Violent extremism aimed at curbing the spread of radicalism and violent extremism and cutting support for local terrorist groups.

We vigorously continue our collaboration and information sharing with our counterpart nations like Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, and the United States to name a few, to harness our conduct of operations, he added.

The military spokesperson also cited the need to amend the Human Security Act in order to remove the provision which imposes a hefty fine for members of security forces who wrongfully detained a suspected terrorist and increase the authorized period of detention of a suspected terrorist from three days to 30 days.

Against this backdrop, we Filipinos should unite in this fight against terrorism. This is not only of the AFP's and the PNP's. This drive to protect our nation, our families, and our posterity from the ugly deadly face and outcome of terrorism is everybody's concern, Arevalo stressed.

Citing the increase in tourist arrivals and the Philippines' ranking as among the best places in the world to live and work, the AFP spokesperson noted that these are great reasons for the people to work together to fight terrorism.

We should take inspiration from the fact the Philippines has been ranked 24th best place to live and work, just behind the US, which ranked 23rd, and ahead of China, which ranked 26th. That's according to the 2019 HSBC Expat's annual survey, which is based on responses from more than 18,000 expats across 163 markets on three metrics: living, career opportunity, and family life. And the increase in tourist arrival in the Philippines by 9.6 percent reckoned from (January) '19. All of these are great reasons for all of us to unite and help one another to curb terrorism, he added.

Seven people, including three soldiers, were killed while 22 others were wounded when two suspected suicide bombers staged a noon attack on June 28 at the headquarters of the Army's 1st Brigade Combat Team in Sitio Tanjung, Barangay Kajatian in the town of Indanan.

Three of the seven slain victims were soldiers, two civilians, and the remaining two were the suspects behind the attack; while 12 of the wounded were soldiers and the remaining 10 were civilians.

The June 28 incident is the third of its kind in Mindanao with the first in a military checkpoint in Lamitan, Basilan on July 31, 2018, killing 10 people.

The second was in a cathedral in Jolo, Sulu which killed 20 persons, including the alleged suicide bombers, last January 27.

Meanwhile, PNP chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde ordered the implementation of security adjustments in Mindanao following the bomb attacks.

While he did not elaborate on these, Albayalde said these measures would focus on the security of police camps and public places, especially in Sulu and Basilan.

Albayalde said the PNP is working closely with the AFP to establish the circumstances surrounding this incident to possibly identify and make the perpetrators accountable so that the ends of justice may be served.

Territorial police units in Sulu Island, including SAF and regional mobile forces are providing support to AFP for target-hardening operations in other possible targets of similar terrorist activity, the PNP chief said. (With reports from Priam F. Nepomuceno/PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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