MANILA, Philippines – The main suspect in the Bar exam blast will be charged with multiple frustrated murder and attempted murder on Thursday, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) spokesman Cecilio Boy Zamora said.
Three witnesses said they saw Anthony Leal Nepomuceno, a 26-year-old call center agent and member of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity, without a bandana and sunglasses on after he allegedly threw a grenade at the crowd during the “salubong” for Bar examinees last September 26, NBI National Capital Region Director Constantino Joson said.
He added that the statements of the 3 people who saw Nepomuceno’s face matched the statements of the other witnesses.
He added that 2 other witnesses saw the suspect throw a grenade at the crowd of law students outside the exam venue at the De La Salle University-Taft Avenue campus.
Joseon told Vic De Leon Lima and Karen Davila on radio dzMM’s “Pasada Sais Trenta” that the NBI has a total of 18 witnesses in the case.
“Dalawa iyong nakakita sa kaniya [Nepomuceno]… noong may naghagis. Dalawang babae ito. Nagsisisigaw sila, pumutok nga iyon at tinuturo, ‘Siya iyong nambato, siya iyong nambato noon. Harangin n’yo, harangin n’yo,’” the NBI official said.
"Noong tinuturo po siya immediately after the blast, bumaba sa island iyong thrower,” Joson said. “He walked casually, sigaw ng sigaw na itong babae, napansin noong 3 lalaki doon na... sumisigaw iyong babae, tinuturo iyong nakapanyo.”
"Noong lalapitan nila, tumakbo na... so hinabol nila."
Chase for grenade-thrower
The national council president of another fraternity, Alpha Kappa Rho, reportedly led the chase for the alleged grenade thrower.
The 3 men who chased the suspect managed to wrestle him to the ground, Joson revealed
"In the process, doon natanggal iyong panyo. Nakita na [iyong mukha ng suspect]," he added.
While the suspect was being held down, his 2 accomplices returned to rescue him, the NBI official said.
One of them pulled out a gun and pointed it at those holding down Nepomuceno, he added. “Hindi rin makapalag, binitawan din nila.”
He said a manhunt has been launched to capture the suspect’s 2 accomplices. “Mayroon na rin tayong identity doon sa isa. Iyong nanutok ng baril. Mayroon na rin kaming knowledge [kung nasaan siya].”
Joson said evidence and statements of witnesses point to Nepomuceno as the perpetrator behind the bombing. "Base sa ebidensiyang nakalap namin, tumutugon at tumuturo sa personalidad na ito. Na-identify din ng ating witnesses."
The suspect has not been placed under arrest yet as no warrant has been issued against him.
Joson said that the NBI has requested the Bureau of Immigration to place the suspect on a watchlist to prevent him from leaving the country.
Help from fellow APO members
Nepomuceno, a native of Marinduque and computer science graduate at Manuel L. Quezon University, surrendered Wednesday to Vice-President Jejomar Binay, his fellow fraternity member.
He also reportedly sought help from other prominent APO members such as former Justice Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
Nepomuceno has denied being anywhere near the Bar exam area last September 26. He said he was at home when the blast occurred.
"Our brod is being suspected. After what happened, it is always the tendency to blame our fraternity. No group is holding him. The APO leadership is sad about this incident but I believe he is innocent of the crime," Binay told radio dzMM after bringing the suspect to the NBI.
"There is no warrant for his arrest. He surrendered to me but I believe he is not guilty," Binay said.
He added that said he cooperated in the investigation upon the request of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. He said de Lima promised that the suspect's rights will be respected during the course of the investigation.
Nepomuceno’s lawyer, Atty. Felix Marinas, warned that they will file a countercharge once a case is filed against his client.
“Kapagka nabigyan kami ng kopya ng kung anumang salaysay, at ito ay naglalaman ng kasinungalingan, karapatan din naman ng aming kapatid na si Anthony na labanan ito,” Marinas said.
APO president Mel Adriano, meanwhile, insisted that Nepomuceno is innocent.
Victim welcomes NBI probe results
A female law student who lost both legs in the Bar exam blast welcomed the results of the NBI investigation.
“I’m thankful ako na na-identify ng mga witnesses iyong suspect," Raissa Laurel said.
"Puwede siyang tumakbo, people can protect him, pero hindi siya puwedeng magtago kay God. We keep on praying na ‘yon nga, justice will prevail at maging fair sa lahat."
She said that she has forgiven those responsible for the bombing but insisted, however, that the perpetrator must be brought to justice. - with reports from Zen Hernandez, Maan Macapagal, and TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News; radio dzMM
Reposted From ABS-CBN News