Roxas, Purisima disagree on CDO blast issue

Natashya Gutierrez
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas questions police chief Alan Purisima's decision to clear cops who cleared the CDO blast side

NO IRREGULARITY. PNP Chief Alan Purisima says the Cagayan de Oro blast site was cleaned only after police had obtained the evidence it needed. Photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – There’s a conflict between the police chief and his boss, the Interior Secretary.

Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas on Friday, August 2, questioned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima’s decision to clear the cops and first responders who, in his opinion, prematurely cleaned up the Cagayan de Oro (CDO) blast site.

On Tuesday, July 30 Purisima cleared CDO police of any irregularity just 3 days after Roxas scolded them for allowing the crime scene to be cleaned less than 24 hours after the explosion. Roxas was so displeased he even instructed the police at the time to “reconstruct” the crime scene through interviews.

Upon hearing Purisima had cleared the cops, Roxas aired his dissatisfaction and told reporters Friday he would ask Purisima “to explain” why and how he came up with that decision.

But Purisima, in a later press conference Friday, appeared unnerved by the Secretary. He stood by his decision. “Yes [I stand by it] because if the crime scene is being handled by the crime processors, it is released to the investigators of the case, who will release the crime scene,” he said.

He added, “Maybe [Roxas is] not satisfied because there are so many things we’re considering here… [crime processors] are the ones who will determine what is needed. As long as it is needed [they] will not release it.”

Purisima also said he would not be the one to explain to Roxas, but the crime processors and investigators “because I was not there when the incident happened.” He said: “They will explain to him why they did it.”

The crime processors can give Roxas the exact details on what time they started investigating the crime scene, what time they finished, and what evidence they were able to get from the blast site “so we can clarify the issue,” Purisima said.

On Friday night, July 26, Cagayan De Oro City was rocked by an explosion after a still-unidentified person left an improvised explosive device concealed in a black bag on a black monoblock chair outside Kyla’s Bistro. The blast killed 8 and injured 46 others.

No angle or motive has been determined, but a report by a risk control organization is pointing to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) as the most likely culprit.

Changed tune

Talks of a premature clean-up raised concerns that it would make it harder to find the perpetrators.

Even Purisima initially called it an “obstruction of justice” and vowed to investigate the first responders. But his tune has since changed, clearing cops of responsibility a day after he made the statement.

He said he cleared the cops after speaking to them and seeing photos and evidence they obtained from the site.

Purisima said he last met with Roxas on Wednesday, July 31 about the bombing. During the meeting, he said he showed Roxas the photos from the crime scene before it was cleaned. Roxas did not question Purisima then on his decision to clear the cops.

The police chief also dismissed concerns raised by Roxas that the CDO police did not have the sufficient expertise to probe the crime scene before it was cleaned.

Purisima said on the contrary, post-blast investigators and experts were on site immediately after the blast.

He also gave assurances that while the investigation is still ongoing, “witnesses are identifying someone already but we still have to verify if all the statements match.”

Roxas mentioned he would look into the possibility of amending the rules in crime scene clean-up. –

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