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PNP confident in case vs suspects in Jolo blasts

MANILA – The PNP is confident that the testimonies of 3 witnesses will strengthen its case against the suspects in the deadly Jolo Cathedral bombing.

Two minors, in a joint judicial affidavit that was originally written in Tausug and later translated to English, said they often stayed at a motorcycle repair shop of prime suspect Kammah and sometimes played in his house.

The minors, ages 12 and 13, said they saw electrical wiring and cellphone batteries in Kammah’s house and overheard them say they were making bombs.

“We saw rolled electric wiring and cellphone batteries. They peeled the cover of the cellphone battery until its white color comes out. Then they connect them into a wiring,” the affidavit read.

“They were making bombs. We heard them talking that they were making bombs.”

The minors said they saw an Indonesian couple on Jan. 24, 3 days before the twin blast.

They also said they were in the lumberyard when Kammah and his companions arrived to rent a jeep for another suspect Radjan Albali. They all rode the jeep to bring the wood to a lumberyard owner.

At 8 p.m., they arrived at a gas station in Tiyam when a tricycle carrying 3 people came – a woman wearing a hijab, a child wearing a hijab, and a man. The children said the 3 brought a black stroller with them and then rode the jeep.

“We saw that their clothes were wet then we transported the persons we fetched to Sitio Bastiyong, Barangay Langub, Patikul, Sulu. We stopped at Sitio Usaw, Barangay Langub, Patikul, Sulu particularly at the house of Absara. Then ten (10) persons went out from the house. But we were able to recognize only four (4) persons, namely; Makrim, Usman, Barak and Kammah after which, Kammah and Makrim boarded the jeep and then we proceeded to Sitio Bastiyong, Barangay Langub, Patikul, Sulu,” the affidavit read.

The PNP said they are asking one of the 5 suspects, a 59-year-old man, to become a state witness. He was with the suspects for a few months in Sitio Bastiong.

The man said he was with a suspect, alias Abu Arab Puti, on Jan. 8 to buy nails, lead, electrical wiring, and old cellphones in a hardware and general merchandise store.

“Tapos ay bumili din sya ng abono (Ammonum Nitrate) sa barter pati ang lalagyan na container mga pang 10 litro ang laki,” which he said were bomb components.

The materials were allegedly brought to Kabunlatih, Patikul Sulu in the house of Muksin, where he saw suspects Usman, Absara, alias Barak, Makrim, Albaji Gadjale alias Awag, Rajan Albaji, Kaisar Albaji or alias Isal, Mukammal Pae or alias Kammah and alias Arab Puti.

“Matapos ang kanilang pag uusap ay nakita ko na niluto ni alyas Makrim ang abono (Ammonium Nitrate) sa gasolina, at matapos na maluto ay unti-unti nang pinaghalo-halo ni alyas Usman ang mga sangkap kung saan inilagay nya ang nalutong abono sa loob ng container kasama ng mga pinamili naming mga pako, at tingga,” the affidavit read.

The suspect said Makrim admitted they were making a bomb. The group allegedly initially planned on bombing a ship or a big mall.

“Unang pinagplanohan na pasabugin ang Barko sa idea ni MAKRIM o alin mang tindahan na malaki hanggang sa walang nangyan sa mga planong ito kung kaya’t nag desisyon si BARAK na itabi na muna ang nagawa na bomba at inutusan si KAMMA na sya ang magtago sa bahay ng matandang babae na si EBING sa Barangay Bastiong, Patikul, Sulu,” the affidavit read.

On Jan. 18, Awag, Barak, Kammah, and Usman called a meeting to plan the bombing of Jolo Cathedral.

“Napagdesisyonan na ilagay sa dalawang back pack na bag ang nagawang bomba at ang plano na pasabugin ay ang simbahan ng Mt. Carmel Cathedral sa Jolo, Sulu. At pagkatapos noon ay nagsiuwian na kami at tatawag na lang daw silang muli kung kailangan pa ang mga sumunod na pangyayari matapos ang naturang plano,” the affidavit read.

On Jan. 24, the group asked for the Indonesian couple who came from Zamboanga to be picked up in Tayhaji Buto, Tiyam.

“Dumating sina BARAK, USMAN, KAMMAH at ARAB at nag-usap sila ni KAISAR alyas AL para sabihan na sunduin na namin ang parating na mag-asawang INDO (Indonesian) pagkatapos kami ay sumakay na sa jeep.”

He said they arrived at a gas station in Tiyam at 7:30 p.m. and waited for 30 minutes before the tricycle carrying the Indonesian couple arrived.

The suspect turned witness said the Indonesian man wore a black T-shirt, of medium built, fair-skinned, and stood 5’4″ tall. The Indonesia woman, which he assumed as the wife, wore a black hijab, was slightly plump with fair complexion, and stood 5’2″ in height.

They brought the Indonesian family to Bastiong, Langub, Patikul, Sulu.

On Jan. 25, together with suspects Awag, Rajan and Aisar, they went to Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, the Abu Sayyaf leader, and brought the Indonesian family there.

“Pinagpaplanuhan po nila ang gagawing pagpapasabog sa Mt. Carmel Cathedral, sa pamumuno ni HATIB HAJAN SAWAJAAN “Imam Hajan” na iginuguhit ni alyas Barak, at ang magdadala ng bomba sa simbahan ng Mt. Carmel Cathedral ay ang dalawang Indonesian national at ito ay ilalagay sa back pack at si MAKRIM naman ang mag sisilbing look out at sya din ang naatasang magpaputok ng bomba, kami naman ang nautusang sumundo at maghatid,” his affidavit read.

On Jan. 27, he said they were in Bastiong between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. when they heard 2 loud explosions.

“Sa pagitan ng alas 8 ng umaga hanggang alas 9 ng umaga ay nakarinig na po kami ng dalawang magkasunod na malakas na pagsabog at sinabi sa akin ni Albaji Gadjali alyas Awag na yon na ang suicide bombers na aming hinatid at sinundo,” the affidavit read.

His statement matched that of Interior Secretary Eduardo Año’s answer during an interview that a child was left by the Indonesian couple to Abu Sayyaf supporters.

“’Yung lalaki more than a year na dito ‘yan dumating pero hindi ‘yan kasama sa Marawi. ‘Yung babae, December lang ‘yun dumating tapos meron din ‘yung anak na 10-year-old na iniwan dito sa mga symphatizers at supporters ng Abu Sayyaf. ‘Yung dalawang Indonesian na ito, gusto nila magsample baka sakali sumunod ‘yung ibang Filipino na suicide bombers, pero our culture does not allow such kind of practice,” Año said.

Some churchgoers have already said they saw an Indonesian woman moments before the explosion.

According to the church server, who regularly prepared the mass kit intended for the morning mass, he knew the regular churchgoers there by heart.

On Jan. 27, the server said he noticed an unfamiliar woman, who sat at the back portion of the Jolo Cathedral.

“I noticed the arrival of the regular church goers except a female who entered the Cathedral wearing long pants and gray jacket with a blue backpack with white combination more or less 5’6″ in height and shoulder length ponytail who is not familiar with me and sat at the right wing of the Cathedral particularly at the most left corner of the bench ahead of the location of the Reyes couple where the explosion occurred,” the affidavit said.

A 19-year-old churchgoer, whose mother had died and father sustained injuries, said she was at the back of the church when she noticed a woman wearing pants, gray jacket and a backpack entering the second door of the Jolo Cathedral.

“Because that was the first time I saw her, and actually a new face in the church or not a regular churchgoer as we know almost all the parishioners,” her affidavit read.

“She is more or less 5’6 height, medium build, 25 to 30 years old, fair complexion with shoulder length ponytail hair,” her affidavit said.

She said she was about to go to the front for the second reading when an explosion happened where the woman wearing the backpack was. She ran for cover until the second explosion happened.

A police who sustained burnt injuries in the face and hand during the second explosion gave an account of the suspected second bomber.

The police assigned at the Jolo Municipal Police Station said he was conducting patrol at the old market at Serrantes St. when he heard a loud explosion.

He quickly went to the Jolo Cathedral and stopped at the pavement adjacent to the main entrance of the church to observe. He said he saw injured people rushing out of the church.

In the midst of the chaos, he said he saw a man carrying a bag near his chest.

“He was subsequently held by AFP security personnel and was attempted to lay down his bag on the ground but it immediately exploded,” his affidavit said.