By Martin Sadongdong
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde disclosed Wednesday that coordination has been made with Indonesian authorities to possibly identify the recovered limbs in the aftermath of the twin bombings at a cathedral in Jolo, Sulu last month.
Albayalde confirmed that the two pairs of feet — one from a woman and the other from a man, did not match any of the DNA of the 23 fatalities in the July 27, 2018 bombings at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral.
The country’s top cop, however, said the woman’s feet matched the DNA of the piece of nape which was also found in the blast site.
“What’s new here is ‘yong pares ng babae na paa ay pareho doon sa nakuha sa part na nape o batok na babae rin. So same person ‘yong isang pares ng pambabae at ‘yong part ng batok na nakuha pero walang nag-match doon sa DNA nila sa 23 na namatay (What’s new here is that the pair of feet from the [unidentified] woman matched the part of the nape which turned out to be from a woman also. So the woman’s feet and the piece of nape came from the same person but it did not match any of the DNA of the 23 fatalities),” Albayalde said in an ambush interview after a mass wedding ceremony in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
The development further strengthened the theory of the police and military that the pairs of limbs came from the two suspected foreign suicide bombers who carried out the bomb attack.
“Ang analysis dito, may nawawala talagang dalawa na unidentified pa (The analysis here is that there are still two unidentified casualties [whose bodies] have yet to be found),” Albayalde admitted.
But with the impact of the blast, authorities believe the bodies of the two unaccounted casualties will never be found since it may have been reduced to bits.
Meanwhile, Albayalde said the Indonesian police came in the country two weeks ago to help the PNP in their on-going investigation.
He said the foreign police forces were the same personnel who investigated the Bali, Indonesia bombings in 2012 where three bomb incidents — including a case of suicide bombing, were recorded in separate areas in the capital city, killing 202 people and wounding 209 others.
“I don’t know if they asked for the DNA [of the recovered limbs]. Ang pwede kasi, kung meron na silang DNA sa Indonesia, malaking tulong yan. Kung meron na silang sample or probably relitives of suspected terrorists in their country, pwede nilang i-match so ‘yon ang pwede nating ihingi ng tulong (I don’t know if they asked for the DNA. If they have already a DNA [database] in Indonesia, it would be a big help for us. If they have samples or probably relatives of suspected terrorists in their country, they can cross-match [the limbs] so that’s on eway we can ask for their help),” Albayalde explained.
It has yet to be proven whether the two suspected bombers who detonated the improvised explosive devices were really Indonesians.
The only thing that the police were holding on to were the statements of the witnesses who claimed the man spoke in what sounded like Bahasa Indonesia. The woman, according to witnesses’ accounts, never talked.
“Base doon sa affidavits, ang babae ay hindi nagsasalita. Ang lalaki naman kaya they assumed he is an Indonesian medyo tonong Indonesian ‘yong salita (Based on the affidavits, the woman wasn’t talking. The man sounded like an Indonesian that’s why they assumed he is an Indonesian),” Albayalde said.
However, there were accounts from witnesses, who claimed the man had been in the Philippines for about a year already so he could also speak Tausug.
Police were also checking information that the suspected suicide bombers, said to be a couple, left a 10-year-old girl who is presumed to be their daughter under the care of terrorist symphatizers.
If confirmed to be true, Albayalde said they could conduct a DNA test on the recovered limbs and the alleged daughter of the suspects to identify them.
This, Albayalde said, could become a monumental breakthrough in the investigation on the Jolo cathedral bomb attacks.