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Groups want fair treatment of wounded suspects in Esperanza carnival bombing

Local News • 14:58 PM Sun Mar 13, 2016
John Unson
Rallyists wants a fair treatment of two injured minors the police detained for having allegedly perpetrated the February 21 grenade attack at a carnival in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat. (John Unson)

DATU ABDULLAH SANGKI, Maguindanao - Local sectors have urged the police to allow the confinement in a hospital of two injured adolescents - one of them hit with a shrapnel in the eye - now both detained as suspects in the February 21 bombing of a carnival in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat.The detainees, both students of Datu Abdullah Camino Memorial High School in Datu Abdullah Sangki town in the second district of Maguindanao, where among more than 30 people injured in the grenade attack.They were immediately taken out of the hospital by policemen, while still being treated of their shrapnel wounds, and clamped down in a detention facility inside the Sultan Kudarat provincial police office in Isulan town, after witnesses pointed to them as culprits.A pre-school child was killed and 30 others were hurt when three men set off fragmentation grenades in the carnival near the Esperanza town hall at about 8and00 p.m. on February 21.Witnesses had told reporters the incident was preceded, about two hours earlier, by an altercation betweena banker in a mini gambling stall at one spot in the carnival and a man complaining of having been shortchanged in his bets.The witnesses, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, said the unidentified man left the carnival premises furious, threatening to retaliate.Various peace advocacy groups had staged rallies at the town center of Esperanza to urge the municipal police to allow the confinement of the two minors in a hospital to undergo medication of their shrapnel wounds.The latest of these rallies, held on Wednesday, was attended by Melanio Ulama, a commissioner in the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, who appealed to the police to allow the detained minors to be treated in a hospital.Senior officials of the National Commission on Indigenous People in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (NCIP-ARMM) initiated an inquiry on the incident over the weekend.Fatima Kanakan, director of NCIP-ARMM, said the detained adolescents belong to Maguindanao’s ethnic Teduray community.Kanakan had called on the Esperanza municipal police to probe deeper on the allegations that the suspects were responsible for the carnival bombing amid assertions they could be fall guys.The police chief of Esperanza, Chief Inspector Bryan Bernardino, had told reporters they have filed criminal charges against the suspects.Bernardino said it is no longer within their jurisdiction to deny or give in to requests for their transfer to a hospital.Medics from the Maguindanao provincial government’s disaster response team, led by Datu Ameer Jehad Ala Ambolodto, treated the wounds of the minors early this week.Ambolodto, whose team is operating under the supervision of Maguindanao’s provincial budget officer, Lynette Estandarte, said there is an urgent need for the suspects to be confined in a hospital.The police guarding the cell of the suspects prevented Ambolodto and his companions from taking photos of the injured detainees. These are minors. The government has a procedure in handling suspected offenders who are still children. They are high school students,” said Anwar Emblawa, incumbent municipal councilor of Datu Abdullah Sangki.

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