2 bodies still unidentified days after Jolo Cathedral blasts

Rambo Talabong
2 bodies still unidentified days after Jolo Cathedral blasts
Does this bolster ISIS's claim that they deployed 2 suicide bombers to mount the attacks?

MANILA, Philippines – Two days after the Jolo Cathedral bombing that killed at least 23 and injured 109 people, authorities are still trying to pin down the identity of 2 fatalities.

According to the list of deaths kept by officials and obtained by Rappler, the remains of two “unidentified civilian[s]” are still kept in the Jolo Trauma Hospital. The list identified both of them as male.

They are the only two civilians brought to the Trauma Hospital, where all fatalities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines were placed. (READ: 6 children among wounded in Jolo Cathedral bombing)

The rest of the remains of other civilian casualties, as well as one from the Philippine Coast Guard, were brought to the Integrated Provincial Health Office-Sulu Provincial Hospital.

The death toll rose to 23 as of February 4.

The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the explosions that happened inside the church and at the entrance during Sunday Mass. On Monday, January 28, ISIS announced it had deployed two suicide bombers to mount the attacks.

Who are they?

In a text message to Rappler, Western Mindanao Command spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Gerry Besana said they are still “verifying everything.”

But he said that the unidentified bodies do not necessarily bolster ISIS’s claim of suicide bombing.

“How would you identify whose body almost evaporated? Can’t it be a husband and wife who went together, both died and no relative knew they were there?” Besana said in a text message. 

UNIDENTIFIED. Two 'males' remain unidentified days after the bombing of the Jolo, Sulu Cathedral. Sourced photo

In a dzMM radio interview on Tuesday, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said that it has been difficult to identify the fatalities as some were “already torn to pieces.” (WATCH: Inside the Jolo Cathedral after the blasts)

Here’s what we know so far.

Philippine police and military authorities said the IEDs must have been detonated “electronically” and from a distance. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.