POLICEMEN defused an improvised bomb found by a street sweeper near the US embassy in Manila on Monday.
The bomb was similar to the improvised explosive device used in the Davao bombing, according to Manila Police District (MPD) Director Senior Supt. Joel Coronel.
Had the bomb exploded, it could have killed or maimed anyone within a 100-meter radius. It was composed of a cellphone, 81 mm mortar, a blasting cap and a nine-volt battery.
“Most probably there was an intention to bomb the area because there’s a detonating device, a cellphone, but this is still under investigation,” Metro Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde said in a phone interview.
The device was defused several minutes after its discovery.
“We are thankful that the municipal employee and the PNP took quick and appropriate actions to ensure the safety of all,” US Embassy Press Attachè and first secretary Molly Koscina said.
The MPD said two persons who claimed to have information on the planting of the bomb have come out. Investigators are checking all the CCTVs near the embassy to find out if the man who left the explosive was caught by the cameras.
Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa admitted that probers have not zeroed in on any suspect.
“Pwedeng terrorist group, pwedeng taong galit sa embassy na hindi na approve ang visa, pwedeng mga tao na gustong pabagsakin ang US embassy, (it can be the handiwork of terrorists or someone mad at the embassy because his visa was not approved). Anybody can do that,” Philippine National Police Chief General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said.
“By our analysis, we can theorize that this can be linked to the Maute (group) dahil sa nangyari sa Davao, same ang signature (because what happened in Davao, it has the same signature),” dela Rosa said.
At least 14 people were killed when a bomb exploded at a night market in Davao City in September this year.
The PNP chief called on the public not to panic.
“Maghihigpit tayo sa ating security, mag ingat tayo. Everything is under control, the police is on top of the investigation,” he added.
He said the incident will not be used by government to justify the declaration of martial law.
“The government will not use an incident that will cause panic, fear and undue harm, or even death to its own people to declare martial law,” the PNP chief said.
Malacanang also gave assurances that government is on top of the situation.
“We assure the public that this incident should not be a cause for alarm. Business and work continue as normal,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement.
“The PNP is on top of the situation and shall beef up security measures in public places especially where there are big crowds. To ensure public safety in airports, seaports, bus and mass transport terminals, concerned transport agencies are instructed to increase the visibility and presence of uniformed personnel and heighten the screening of persons and luggage as part of our security vigilance,” Andanar added.
In a separate statement, Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella also allayed fears that the US embassy incident and ongoing military operations against the Maute Group would justify a move to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
“The reaction of opposition lawmakers that the discovery of IED near the US embassy along with movement of the Maute group may be laying a foundation for the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is reading too much into the situation,” Abella said.