MANILA (1st UPDATE) - Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio on Monday offered a P2-million reward for the immediate arrest of the culprits behind the deadly Friday night bombing in her city. In an interview with ABS-CBN's "Umagang kay Ganda," Duterte-Carpio said she has set aside P1 million for information about the suspects and another P1 million for anyone who can "deliver" them to the city government. "Kumuha ako galing sa city government -- P1 million sa makakabigay sa pangalan at kung nasaan iyung tao ngayon and then another P1 million po sa makakapag-deliver sa amin nung taong iyun," she said. (I tapped funds from the city government -- P1 million for information on the name and whereabouts of the suspect and another P1 million for whoever can deliver the person to us.) Police said Sunday that they were searching for three people wanted for questioning over the bombing of a night market in the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte, the father of Mayor Duterte-Carpio The blast, which tore through a bustling market in the heart of Davao city on Friday, killed at least 14 people and led the President to impose a "state of lawlessness" in the country.
The head of Davao police on Sunday described how a man was seen leaving a bag with an improvised bomb at the market while being followed by two women. Police are searching for the three -- and possibly a fourth person -- over the bombing, which has been widely blamed on the Muslim extremist Abu Sayyaf group. Senior Superintendent Michael John Dubria told reporters the man went for a massage in the market and left the bag in that area. "We believe the improvised explosive device exploded when the person left," he said, adding that the two women had been following the man. Another person may have detonated the device with a cellphone, he suggested.
He would not say who was behind the blast but said the bomb, using a mortar shell, was similar to those used by "threat groups" in central Mindanao. There are several Muslim outlaw groups in that area, including separatist guerrillas but the Abu Sayyaf militants are based elsewhere, mainly in the provinces of Sulu and Basilan. Davao is the hometown of President Duterte, who had just ordered an offensive against the Abu Sayyaf prior to the bombing. Duterte said the explosion was in retaliation for the military operation against the group in their strongholds in Jolo, Sulu. However, Chief Inspector Andrea de la Cerna, spokeswoman of a task force investigating the explosion, said they were not ruling out other motives for the attack.
"We have copies of the CCTV (closed-circuit television), we have eight possible witnesses but we have named no one (as suspects)," she told AFP. Duterte believes the attack was "80 percent" likely an act of terrorism, his spokesman, Martin Andanar told reporters on Sunday. After the bombing, Duterte declared a national "state of lawlessness," which his security adviser said gave the military extra powers to conduct law enforcement operations normally done only by the police. The military is continuing to press an offensive against the Abu Sayyaf in Jolo following a clash on August 29 that left 15 soldiers dead. However, military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said the Abu Sayyaf has since been avoiding any confrontation. 'DAVAO NOW SAFE' Mayor Duterte-Carpio, meanwhile, urged people to still visit Davao City, which has seen a boom in local and foreign visitors following the victory of Duterte in the May 9 elections. "As I said, I am sorry for what happened, but we welcome everybody na gustong bumisita dito sa Davao City and I assure everybody here in Davao City na gagawin namin lahat to prevent another incident," she said. (As I said, I am sorry for what happened, but we welcome everybody who wants to visit Davao City and I assure everybody here in Davao City that we will do everything to prevent another incident.) As the city grieves amid the tragedy, the mayor also asked her consituents to unite against lawless groups and pray for the blast victims. "Hinihingi ko lang lahat na magkaisa po tayo against terrorists. Magkaisa po tayo na magdasal para sa mga namatay, nasa ospital at sa pamilya nila," she said. (All I ask is for everybody to unite against terrorists. Let's unite in praying for the casualties, those who are still in the hospital, and their families.)