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The police have tightened security in Manila and are investigating the possible involvement of two law fraternities in the blast that injured at least 47 people on the last day of the Bar examinations late Sunday.
Manila Police District (MPD) spokesman Chief Inspector Erwin Margarejo said on in an interview on dzBB radio on Monday "Vine-verify pa natin ang dalawang fraternity na nagsasabing ganyan. May information tayong nakalap na fraternity. Sa ngayon di pa natin babanggitin kasi raw information pa ang nakalap na information."
(We are verifying information that two fraternities were involved in the incident. We cannot give further details because this is raw information.)
He indicated that certain law fraternities have been at odds.
"Law fraternity, maaaring may dati nang hidwaan (The information we are verifying is that these are law fraternities that have had a history with each other)," he said.
Margarejo added they now have witnesses who can help them pinpoint the perpetrators. "May nakuha tayong testigo na nakakapagtunay sino ang gumawa ng pagpapasabog kahapon (We have witnesses who can identify the perpetrators)," he said.
Margarejo said that as of 8:00 a.m. Monday, 47 people were reported injured, based on reports from hospitals where the injured were brought.
These hospitals include the Ospital ng Maynila, Manila Doctors’ Hospital, Manila Sanitarium, and the Philippine General Hospital.
The blast occurred across a fast-food outlet near the DLSU (De La Salle University) campus along Taft Avenue, just across the College of St. Benilde.
He said their initial investigation showed many of the injured were caught in a stampede because of the explosion.
He said most of the casualties sustained foot injuries while others were trampled on during the stampede.
Margarejo also admitted the police had lapses in securing the examinees' well-wishers at the site of the incident.
Special task force He also said MPD head Chief Superintendent Roberto Ronganvilla had formed a special task group to look into the incident.
The task force includes personnel from Police Station 9 under Superintendent Francisco Gabriel Jr., Scene of the Crime Operations (SOCO), Explosives and Ordnance Division (EOD), Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), and intelligence group.
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"Napakaraming tao kahapon dahil last day ng Bar exams, siksikan ang tao sa De La Salle Taft. Papalabas na, tapos na ... Medyo malakas, according sa ating testigo. ...Siyempre di maiwasan magkaroon ng stampede," Margarejo said.
(There were so many people Sunday because it was the last day of the Bar exams. There were so many people crowding the area near De La Salle University at Taft Avenue. The people were coming out of the exam venue when the explosion occurred. It was inevitable that a stampede occurred.)
As of 7:00 a.m. Monday, a report by dzBB’s Carlo Mateo said police tightened security in the area where Sunday evening’s incident occurred.
Tension remained high in the area even after school security adopted stricter measures.
However, the portion of Taft Avenue where the incident occurred was opened to traffic as of 6:00 a.m. Monday although the area was still full of litter.
On the other hand, the report said bloodstains can still be seen near plant boxes near "Ground Zero," where the incident occurred.
In a separate interview on dzXL radio, Margarejo admitted possible "lapses" by police as well-wishers sneaked in liquor such as champagne, which they used to pour on some examinees.
"May nakita akong nagbebenta ng liquor. Yan ang pinaguusapan namin, dapat di nakalusot ang nagbebenta ng liquor. Ang ibang well-wisher yan ang ginagamit nilang champagne, binabalot nila at binabasa nila sa ibang barista. Medyo nagkaroon ng kaunting basaan kahapon," he said.
(I personally saw liquor being sold in the area. We have discussed the matter. Also, some well-wishers brought champagne to the area to pour on their relatives who took the exams.)
However, he insisted the MPD had also managed to prevent the entry of deadly weapons by frisking well-wishers in the area.
He also said MPD Station 9 head Superintendent Francisco Gabriel Jr. had been "very busy" all Sunday, the last day of the Bar exams.
"Kausap ko si Col. Gabriel, walang panahon na di siya naging busy. Kahapon ang kasi last day ng exam. It’s very unfortunate [na] nangyari ito (I talked to Gabriel, there was not a moment Sunday when he was not busy. It was unfortunate this had to happen)," he said.
He added that the police will look into other lapses it may have committed.
"Pag-aaralan nating maigi yan. Sa ngayon wala pa kaming tulog at pagaaralan nating maigi ang insidente (We are studying the lapses. Right now we lack sleep and we have to study the incident)," he said.
He said they are also taking Sunday’s incident into account in their security planning for next year’s Bar exams.
However, Rongavilla insisted police managed to implement crowd control, though there were too many students who panicked.
"May crowd control, sinakatuparan nila. (Pero) sa dami ng tao e kanya-kanyang takbo. Ganoon pa man naisugod ang nasugatan sa iba't ibang hospital sa Manila (There was crowd control by police. But there were too many people who ran in separate directions. Still, we managed to bring some of the injured to hospitals)," he said in an interview on dzRH radio.
Still in shock
Rongavilla said his investigators could not immediately interview many of the injured, who were still in shock.
"Biglang naramdaman may tama na sila. Di nila gaano napansin, ang sitwasyon kahapon masaya ang estudyante. Medyo state of shock pa kaya puro unofficial ang nakuha nating information (Many of the injured were surprised to find out they were hurt. They did not immediately notice their injuries because the atmosphere was festive. Our investigators could not immediately get statements from them because they were still in a state of shock)," he said in an interview on dwIZ radio. — RSJ/VVP, GMANews.TV