The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines – The military said terrorism and business rivalry could be among the possible motives in Tuesday’s deadly bus bombing in Maramag, Bukidnon that killed at least 10 people including students.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Eastern Mindanao Command commander Lieutenant General Aurelio Baladad on Wednesday said it was possible that the attack was the handiwork of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
“Possible suspect is…[the] BIFF. The [improvised explosive device that exploded] was a signature bomb of the BIFF,” Baladad said in a phone interview, adding that the mlitary was not also discounting extortion as anoyher possible motive.
The BIFF is the armed component of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM) led by Ameril Umbra Kato, who was expelled as commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after he and his followers rejected the peace talks with the government.
The group is operating in Central Mindanao particularly in the povinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato.
Earlier, the military said Jemaah Islamiyah-trained bomber Bassit Usman had trained BIFF fighters in bomb-making and carrying out bombing missions.
The BIFF and the Abu Sayyaf Group recently posted videos pledging allegiance to the jihadist rebel group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Another ranking military intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Interaksyon.com on Wednesday that aside from terrorism and extortion, “we’ve reasons to believe the motive could also be business rivalry of transport groups.”
“Every time there was a bombing involving a unit of the Rural Mindanao Transit Inc., we always look at terrorism and extortion as motives. But as our men on the ground were keep saying there were also indications of business rivalry among transport groups operating in the region. It’s like between bus companies versus passenger van operators,” the source said.
Meanwhile, the police identified the fatalities in the December 9 bombing as:
- Kim Valiente, 17, a resident of Malaybalay City and a student of Central Mindanao University (CMU)
- Anita Santillan, 54, of Maramag
- Catherine Villahermosa, 28, employee of the Bukidnon Provincial Hospital
- Johnrey Valdesco, of Maramag
- John Bernard Cuhanap, 19, CMU student
- Jonathan Balida
- Marielle Achacoso, 17, of Malaybalay City, CMU student
- Niezel Dee Gonzaga, 22, of Valencia City, CMU student
- Michael Bustos, of South Poblacion, a student
- Johanna Sostoso