PNP: Witness accounts suggest suicide bombing in Jolo Cathedral

Rambo Talabong
A number of witnesses recalled seeing a woman who, they suspect, brought in the first improvised explosive device

SUICIDE BOMBING? The Philippine National Police says witnesses saw a woman enter the Jolo Cathedral wearing a jacket and a bag before the explosion occurred. Malacañang photo

MANILA, Philippines – Witness accounts suggest that the deadly twin blasts in the Jolo Cathedral were a case of suicide bombing, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Friday, February 1.

In a phone interview with Rappler, Superintendent Kris Conrad Gutierrez said a number of witnesses recalled seeing a woman entering the church who, they suspect, brought in the first improvised explosive device.

“Babae lang po ang nabanggit nila, at may binanggit din si PD (provincial director) na may suot na jacket at may dala na bag,” said Gutierrez, spokesperson of the special investigation task group probing the Jolo bombing.

(They mentioned a woman, and the provincial director also mentioned that she wore a jacket and had a bag.)

Gutierrez stressed that this was “not yet conclusive.” (WATCH: Outside Jolo Cathedral during the bombing)

The initial findings of the local police explosive and ordnance division (EOD) lab were also far from conclusive, he said.

The EOD lab only found, so far, that the bomb used ammonium nitrate and that it was “suspended” when it exploded. This means that it did not touch the ground when it detonated.

President Rodrigo Duterte first claimed that the Jolo Cathedral blasts were a case of suicide bombing, citing unconfirmed information from the intelligence community. –

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.