Presidential Security Group checks Manila blast site
PSG spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Michael Aquino, without going into details, said the unit assigned to protect President Rodrigo Duterte is already discussing the incident. He said it is routine for them to check.
"In cases like this, it is usually a joint effort of all security forces so there is no single unit operating," Aquino told Rappler.
An officer wearing a black Army bomb squad shirt was seen assisting the bomb squad of the Manila Police District (MPD). Two Rappler sources confirmed the Army officer is assigned to the PSG.
"They are EOD personnel from the Presidential Security Group. They went there pero hindi na sila pina-assist ng PNP at hindi na necessary kaya nag-pull na din sila (They went there but the PNP no longer asked for their assistance since it was no longer necessary so they pulled out from the area)," said a military officer.
An MPD officer said the PSG got involved because the blast site is close to Malacañang Palace, the official residence of the Philippine President. It is less than 25 minutes walking distance.
There were two blasts on Saturday. The first killed a yet to be identified motorcycle rider of ride-hailing company Grab, who delivered the package that carried the bomb, and the man who received it, a certain Mohamad Bainga.
The package was intended for Shiite Muslim cleric Nasser Abinal of the Islamic Center. He was not at the office near the Golden Mosque when the package was delivered.
The second blast injured police officers processing the blast site. National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Oscar Albayalde was at the site during the second explosion but was immediately escorted out.
Rappler chief photographer LeAnne Jazul, who was at the blast site, said the Army bomb squad officer who arrived after the second blast was apparently consulted when the bomb squad of the police dealt with a suspicious bag.
About 6 soldiers belonging to Joint Task Force-NCR, the military unit responsible for Metro Manila, were also spotted at the blast site much later in the night. They were intended to increase the presence of security forces in the area.
International terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS) again claimed responsibility for the blast, but the police dismissed it as propaganda. Albayalde said it is not a terror act because the bomb attack had a specific target.
ISIS also claimed responsiblity for the pipe bomb explosion in the same district over a week ago, on April 28, that hurt 14 people. The police said that blast was related to a local scuffle. – Rappler.com