A woman government employee based in New York, has been arrested as the principal suspect in the bombing of the opening ceremony of the American Society of Travel Agents convention Oct. 19.
The Phillippine government made the announcement this evening and identified the suspect as Doris Baffrey, who works for the Phillippine Tourism office in New York. Baffrey, who came to Manila as a delegate to the convention, is believed to be a relative of a high-ranking government official.
A statement issued by Malacanang Palace, official residence of President Ferdinand Maros quoted the president as saying that Baffrey, 29, confessed that she planted the explosive device in the convention center.
The explosion injured 21 person, none of them seriously. President Marcos and U.S. Ambassador Richard Murphy, who had both just finished addressing the convention, escaped unhurt.
The statement further quoted Marcos as saying that Baffrey, married to an American, "tearfully confessed that she thought the device she had planted was just an oversized firecracker and that nobody would get hurt." An accomplice is also being sought.
The statement did not explain how Baffrey was identified as the principal suspect. It said that she had been linked to anti-Marcos groups in the United States, which had recruited her as a courier.
The spate of bomb attacks in Manila since August have killed on American and injured more than 60 people. Responsibility has been claimed by an urban guerrilla organization called the April 6 Liberation Movement. It has vowed to overthrow Marcos' authoritarian rule an dismantle the martial law government he imposed in 1972.
The government has charged that Philippine exiles living in the U.S. financed and backed the urban terrorists. In the aftermath of the convention bombing, warrants were issued for 30 people, most of whom are in the United States.
They include such foes of Marcos as former senator Jovito Salonga, now in a Manila hospital and Benigno Aquino, a fellow at Harvard. Both have denied links to the terroists.
Marcos said 15 persons had been arrested so far in connection with the recent series of bombings in Manila, and that explosives had been seized.
Insisting that the terrorists were initially trained in the United States, Marcos said the evidence would be turned over to U.S. officials for action since the suspects had violated U.S. laws. These violations included the clandestine export of explosives and fomenting rebellion and terrorism against a freindly government.
Marcos added, "What I'd like to do is hand those over to the U.S. authorities an see what they will do considering the seriousness of the conspiracy which was concocted on U.S. soil."