MANILA (Mabuhay) – A self-proclaimed anti-China group has been linked to Monday’s foiled attempt to smuggle improvised explosives into the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Tuesday morning.
In a press conference at the National Bureau of Investigation, de Lima said the leader of three men arrested Monday was one Pepito Guerrero, a self-proclaimed “general” of “USAFFE.”
“Inaalam (namin kung) gaano kalaki o ilan ang member. Ang kanilang sinusulong from initial investigation is hindi sila kuntento, frustrated sila sa stand ng pamahalaan kontra sa China,” she said in the press conference.
She identified the two other arrested as Emmanuel San Pedro and Sonny Diojanon.
The three will undergo inquest proceedings within the day and be charged with illegal possession of explosives.
Possible added charges being studied against them include conspiracy to commit terrorism, she said.
Once pressed with charges, the three will be detained at the NBI jail, said Rommel Vallejo, chief of the NBI Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division.
De Lima said the group had planned a bombing as early as Aug. 25, National Heroes Day, but it did not push through.
She said the NBI learned of the USAFFE’s plan on Sunday night via an informant.
Citing initial investigation by the NBI, she said the group claims to be “defenders of the Filipino people.”
“They want this administration to espouse a tougher stand in this dispute (with) China. Apparently this is a misguided group,” she said, referring to the Philippines’ territorial dispute with China in parts of the South China Sea.
During the press conference, de Lima said the improvised incendiary device (IID) found inside the suspects’ vehicle could potentially cause a fireball that could be deadly to anyone within five to 10 meters.
She said the fragments could cause injury and be deadly.
According to Vallejo, the IID found at NAIA-3 was to be placed inside the comfort room at the parking area, while the other three were going to be placed at the SM Mall of Asia.
The group was also planning to strafe the Chinese Embassy and the DM Consunji, Inc. building, both in Makati City.
Meanwhile, De Lima called on groups not to resort to violent means to air their sentiments.
“You can have your opinions (on issues), but if you do it in the violent way, mali pa rin,” De Lima said.
She added that President Benigno Aquino III has been informed of the development, and has instructed the NBI to pursue the investigation.
Meanwhile, de Lima said their investigation will now focus on whether the group has other allies and who is behind it.
“Sila lang ba ‘yan? Sino ang nasa likod nila?” she said.
De Lima also showed reporters a manifesto of the “Kilusan Laban sa Pananakop,” which she said was to be read Aug. 28.
But she said corrections on the manifesto indicated it would have been read Sept. 1, Monday.
She said the NBI also recovered a list of email addresses to send the manifesto to. (MNS)