MANILA -- Intelligence and police authorities showed President Benigno Aquino III the sketches of two people who sat on the sixth row where the bomb was placed in the bus that exploded last Tuesday based on artists and computer sketches extracted from witnesses.
The two are being hunted as “persons of interest” who could lead authorities to those behind the bombing.
At the same time, they informed the President and the media of the heightened security efforts in Metro Manila and around the country to constantly ensure the safety of the people against terrorists and criminals.
Such efforts include: increased police visibility; deployment of 300 uniformed cops in all buses plying Epifanio de los Santos Avenue and some interior streets; coordinating with security agencies on the “target hardening” and helping them improve their security coverage of the different establishments in the country; organizing a barangay peacekeeping action teams to help the police in maintaining order in their respective areas.
Among those who briefed the palace reporters about security efforts being undertaken were: National Security Adviser Secretary Cesar Garcia; Philippine National Police chief Gen. Raul Bacalzo and Gen. Nicanor Bartolome chief of the National Capital Regional Police Office.
Bartolome said that although the two “persons of interest” were said to be in row 6 of the bus, where the 81-mm mortar was lodged and detonated via a Nokia cellphone, ”we want to invite them for questioning about their knowledge of the bomb” that killed 5 people and injured more than 10 bus riders.
The physical descriptions of both POIs are: fair-complexioned, around 35 to 37 years old; 50 to 70 kilos and around 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 7 inches tall.
They boarded the bus in front of Heritage Hotel in Pasay City bound for Ayala and alighted at Malugay Street before Ayala Avenue.
“We are looking at all possible angles. So far no one has claimed responsibility for the bus bomb explosion unlike previous explosions which were readily claimed by certain groups,” Bacalzo said.
On Friday morning, the PNP-NCRPO reported fielding 372 uniformed policemen as bus marshals who boarded the buses in a terminal and then descended at another point only to board another bus. These marshals will identify themselves to the passengers and the bus driver and conductor before inspecting the belongings of passengers in looking for any suspicious and abandoned items.
Earlier, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo announced a P1-million “bounty” for any person who could lead to the arrest of the perpetrators.
Bacalzo said the PNP earlier received a tip that the feast of the Black Nazarene on Jan. 9 would be “disrupted but we did not take the warning lightly. We augmented our police force during the said feast.”
A similar police augmentation will be done during the celebration of Feb. 3 of the Chinese New year ushering in the year of the metal rabbit. “We will be augmenting the police force to assist the Manila Police District, where most festivities will be held,” Bartolome said.*PNA
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