As investigators start looking for clues that could lead to the identication and arrest of the perpetrators of Friday’s bomb attack in Davao City, three persons, including two women, are being sought for questioning.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald M. dela Rosa said the “persons of interest” have been tagged by some witnesses to be responsible in bringing the bomb in the night market.
The Abu Sayyaf Group, locked in a fierce battle with government troops in Sulu, has claimed responsibility for the blast that killed 15 people and injured 71 others.
“We are currently cross-matching signature (of the bomb) and testimonies of the witnesses to the rogue gallery of terror suspects,” said Dela Rosa.
So far, cross-matching process has yielded negative results.
Twenty four hours following the attack, President Duterte met with some Cabinet secretaries and security officials in Davao City.
“He (Duterte) was mad, he was mad because of what happened… but he was not angry at us because he admitted the fact that even powerful countries also became victims of terrorism,” said Dela Rosa.
Duterte, according to Dela Rosa, recognizes the fact that the bombing was retaliation for the ongoing operations to finish off the notorious ASG in Basilan and Sulu.
Thousands of soldiers have been deployed in Sulu to end the activities of the ASG which include abducting people for ransom.
Dela Rosa said the ASG wanted to divert attention from the current military operation.
He said the ASG may have successfully carried out the attack, but the government will make sure that the rouge group will pay for it.
“There’s a time for them, and there will be a time for us. They will not be lucky every time, there will come a time that we will be lucky against them,” said Dela Rosa.
The PNP chief assured that all the potential targets, especially urban areas in Mindanao and even Metro Manila, are secured.
“With what happened to Davao City, all cities must be prepared now,” said Dela Rosa. “We don’t want to be panicky but we want to make sure that we are prepared so that they will not be given the chance to strike again.”
Police and military forces across the country were placed on highest security alert after the blast. They were also instructed to conduct random and surprise checkpoints as well as intensified police visibility.
In Metro Manila, which is usually the main target of terror groups, the National Capital Region Police Office has already mapped out security measures which include intensified security on places of convergence, mass transport and other potential targets.
Dela Rosa also disclosed that an executive order may be issued anytime soon, detailing the scope of the state of lawlessness declared by Duterte.
“We are just waiting for it, it is just being finalized by the Executive Secretary,” said Dela Rosa.
(AARON B. RECUENCO)