By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

FOUR DIED HERE. Security forces guard the entrance to the Dimaporo gymnasium of the Mindanao State University in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur in this undated photo. On Sunday (Dec. 3, 2023), an improvised explosive device went off at about 7 a.m. during a Catholic Mass, resulting in the death of four and the wounding of about 50. (Photo courtesy of Gov. Oaminal)

MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday said the blast at the Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur on Sunday that killed four persons and wounded at least 50 others is not the work of suicide bombers.

“Walang indication na meron ganun (suicide bombing). Kausap ko yung PD (provincial director), because mga Kristiyano ito, ongoing ‘yung mass nung mangyari. In fact, ‘yung apat na biktima are all Christians. Wala pong indicators na may suicide bombing na involved sa insidente (There is no indication that something like that happened. When I spoke to the PD, these are Christians, the Mass was ongoing when it happened. In fact, the four victims were all Christians. There are no indicators that there is a suicide bombing involved in the incident),” PNP public information office chief and spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said in a press briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

Fajardo said one of two persons of interests (POI) is a local terrorist.

“Wala binigay sa atin na identification as to the two POIs but ang sinabi lang sa atin, there is indication that they may be members of a certain group na na-report na may mga previous involvement sa bombing, particularly mga (No identification was given to us as to the two POIs but what we were told, there is indication that they may be members of a certain group that was reported to have previous involvements in bombings, particularly) bus bombings,” Fajardo said.

Fajardo said the PNP deployed augmentation teams to areas of convergence for security measures and to detect potential threats.

She said all Police Regional Offices in Mindanao are on full alert to immediately respond to potential threats or untoward incidents.

In a command conference at the 103rd Infantry Brigade headquarters in Marawi City on Monday, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. ordered all troops to “use all resources at our disposal” and “coordinate closely with the PNP.”

Brawner also held a dialogue with the Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim and regional police officials to discuss interventions and enhance security measures. (With a report from Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)