PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — An Australian terrorism expert urged the National Police and Ayala Land to present in public their conflicting findings on the cause of the explosion that hit the Glorietta 2 mall last October.
Dr. Kit Collier said presenting both parties’ separate investigation reports will enable independent forensic and counter-terrorism specialists to scrutinize what evidence they have to support their conclusions.
“What’s alarming in this case is that more people believe that this is a terrorist attack. This is so because those reports, in its fullest forms, have not been made available yet so experts in this case can independently look at it,” Collier said in a forum organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Makati City.
Collier, a visiting fellow at the Australian National University, earlier casts doubts on the police conclusion that gas buildup had caused the explosion at the Glorietta 2 mall on Oct. 19 last year. The Ayala group, which owns Glorietta, had a separate conclusion that other causes than gas accumulation triggered the blast.
At the Focap forum yesterday, Collier said he has yet to see anyone, even members of the media, who has gotten a copy of the National Police’s Jan. 10 final report, including its complete attachments.
Although he stressed that he is more of a political analyst than a forensic expert, the visiting Australian authority said he remains convinced that the National Police’s final report is unconvincing.
“It’s unconvincing in the way it is presented. I’m not saying that the PNP is fundamentally wrong, it’s just that they they’re not making their case in an effective way,” Collier pointed out.
He cited the National Police’s presentation of photographs of two blast victims, one hit by a bomb and the other one by a gas explosion.
“I’ve seen many victims of explosions. Injuries of blast victims are different, you just cannot say in pictures what kind of explosions has hit them,” Collier explained, adding that not all bombs are made with similar components.
Collier stressed, however, that he is not pronouncing that the Glorietta mall blast was a terrorist bombing attack, “although the public think it is so.”
He said people tend to think that is a government cover-up of a terrorist attack because the National Police has not been consistent in announcing its initial findings to the media.
In the first days of the post-blast investigations, police officials have publicly declared that the explosion could have been caused by an LPG tank, only to tell the media later that it could have been a bomb and finally, the industrial accident theory.
“The PNP tends to come up with definitive statements which it will soon retract,” Collier said.
“What’s very damaging in this case is the pattern of confused messages of the government. It has a destabilizing effect. As long as the government sends out these confused signals, the environment is rife for perceptions of conspiracy theory,” Collier said.
He warned that there are still terrorist groups active in the country that are waiting for the right moment to launch more terrorist attacks amid the public’s growing apprehension on the government’s capability to fight terrorism.