Suspects in Davao City bombing arrested, presented to media

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Three suspects in the Davao City night market bombing were presented to the media Friday afternoon in Camp Aguinaldo — over a month after the blast that killed 15 people and injured 69 others.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the three suspects, who were arrested last Tuesday in a mobile check point in Cotabato City, were members of the Maute Group — Islamist militants linked to terrorist organizations.

They were identified as:

  • TJ Macabalang, 30 y/o, the trigger man who made the phone call that detonated the IED
  • Wendel Facturan, 19 y/o, the one who placed the IED at the market. He was the one who had a massage, wearing a bonnet and a face mask
  • Musali Mustapha, 19 y/o, the person who took a cellphone video of the incident

Lorenzana said police recovered from the suspects bomb-making materials similar to the ones used in the Davao bombing. They also seized a sub-machine gun, a 45 calibre pistol, and cellular phones that contained videos and photos of the bombing incident.

"The said three terrorists had direct participation the September 2 Davao bombing. We have recovered solid pieces of evidence showing that they are indeed the terrorists who bombed Davao City," Lorenzana said.

Related: Reward for Davao blast culprits now at ₱3M

The DND chief added the Maute group's plan to bomb Davao City started two weeks before the actual incident — or by the third week of August.

He said an initial investigation showed the group had other plans to conduct a series of bombings in Maguindanao and Davao City.

Lorenzana said the bombing was intended to disrupt the government's massive military operations in Sulu and in Central Mindanao and as retaliation for the heavy casualties the Maute group suffered in Butig, Lanao del sur. Another source of motive was the capture of the Maute group members in August this year.

He added that more or less 10 members of the Maute Group were involved in the bombing and the military continues to track them down.

However, with the arrest of the three suspects, Lorenzana said the case has been considered closed.