By Minka Klaudia Tiangco

Five of the seven suspects who set fire to a bunch of balloons, injuring a vendor last week, were nabbed and presented to Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso on Monday afternoon.

IMG 20200217 145045 - Cops present to Mayor Isko youth, minor suspects in balloon fire incident

(Photo by Minka Tiangco)

Maj. Rosalino Ibay, chief of the Manila Police District-Special Mayor’s Reaction Team (MPD-SMaRT), identified the arrested suspects as Dranreb Colon, 18, and four minors. Two other suspects, namely Ivan Matimatico, 19, and a minor, remain at-large.

All suspects are out-of-school youth, residents of the city of Manila, and reportedly members of the True Life Gangsta group, Ibay said.

Police said Matimatico and Colon were also involved in a carnapping incident at Barangay 849 in Pandacan, Manila in 2019.

Investigation showed that Oliver Rosales, 29, balloon vendor, resident of Mandaluyong City, sustained second-degree burns after the suspects set fire to the balloons he was selling at Barangay 842 in Pandacan, Manila on Wednesday (Feb. 12).

The suspects said they thought only one balloon would pop, and did not think all the balloons would catch fire.

The incident was caught on closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage and went viral on social media.

Domagoso confirmed that Rosales is still confined in a hospital in Mandaluyong and insisted on pressing charges against the suspects.

The city mayor also confirmed that the suspects’ parents have given P5,000 each as an initial settlement with the victim.

The suspects, who will be brought to the Manila City Social Welfare and Development Office, may face charges for serious physical injury and alarms and scandal, Ibay said.

Matimatico and Colon may also face charges for violating Republic Act No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act, for influencing the minor suspects to carry out the crime.

The mayor said the parents of the suspects may also face charges for negligence.

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