ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Whoever left the homemade bomb at the massage parlour didn't count on Diego being there.
A 3-year-old Belgian Malinois dog, Diego quickly detected the presence of the explosive at the massage clinic in Zamboanga City on Sunday night, alerting its handler.
The bomb went off, seriously wounding Diego's handler, PO2 Manuel Franklin Ined, and burning part of the dog's snout.
But the two will survive and were commended by Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar at a news conference Monday "for their acts of heroism."
Thanks to the dog
There were no other casualties in the explosion, which occurred 10 minutes after another blast ripped through a videoke bar above the massage parlour, injuring no one, police said.
"If not for Diego's early detection of the bomb, (other members of the) bomb squad would have been (injured)," Senior Insp. Ryean Lhoyd Bato, chief of the Zamboanga City Police Bomb Squad Unit, told the Inquirer.
Bato's team at first responded to the blast inside the videoke bar on Tomas Claudio Street.
While in the area, Diego became suspicious of a cardboard box in the massage parlour. Ined was about to check "when the device went off," Bato said.
The blast felled Ined with injuries on his face. Diego was able to run for about half a kilometer away from the blast scene.
Ined was taken to Brent hospital, near the blast site.
Poor Diego, who appeared to be lost, was found walking near Zamboanga East Central School, about 500 meters from the blast site.
Bato said Diego seemed to be on its way home to Camp Batalla, 200 meters from the school.
Dr. Mario Arriola, the city veterinarian, said Diego did not sustain any life-threatening injuries.
"But he will remain under observation by the assistant handler. We will run an examination tomorrow," Arriola said.
Diego's ears could have also suffered from the blast as the dog's new handlers had to shout its name to get its attention.
Bato said Diego would be allowed to rest for about three weeks. "We hope he can recover soon," he said.
Mayor Salazar said Ined was in stable condition following a surgical operation.