MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday said there were no indications yet that the series of bombings in Mindanao could spill over to Metro Manila, its chief said after attending a hearing in the Senate on Wednesday.
“It’s an idea. We’re also thinking about it but for bow, there are no indications,” PNP chief, Director General Alan Purisima, said when asked to react to Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce-Enrile’s apprehension that the spate of bombings could spread to other areas, including Metro Mania.
But during the hearing of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs on the July 26 Cagayan de Oro bombing, Purisima disclosed getting reports that major cities in Mindanao would be the targets of bombings.
“There were reports that have been circulating but we’re trying to validate that there will be some bombings in major cities in Mindanao,” he said when asked by Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III if they had any indication that Cagayan de Oro would be a target of an attack.
“Not necessarily targeting Cagayan de Oro but major cities in Mindanao and that includes every city in Mindanao,” the PNP chief said.
But when asked again by reporters after the hearing, Purisima clarified that the information they got was based only on text report.
And when asked why the police had not prevented the Cagayan de Oro bombing, the police chief said: “Can you prevent that from happening?”
Enrile was the first to raise the possibility that the spate of bombings could spill over to other cities.
“I supposed that at this time, you have an anticipation of a problem. (It’s) not just confined to any locality in the country but it might spread out, especially in Metro Manila. Do you have any preparation for this…?” he asked.
Enrile also asked if there was also any similarity between the explosives and methodology used in Cagayan de Oro and in Cotabato City.
“Because if this is done by separate groups, then you have a bigger problem. But if it’s done by a single group, then it’s easy to identify that group,” he said.
Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who was present at the hearing, said contingency plans are in place and alert levels have been heightened, not just in Mindanao but also in other areas.
“We don’t want to reveal too much in open sessions as this will compromise current intelligence operations,” Roxas said.
“ I understand very clearly the Senate rules on executive session, we’d be happy to engage in that at the appropriate time. But for now, the PNP is on heightened alert…” he added
But Enrile went on and asked: “Is this a terroristic activity? And if this is, did you anticipate this? Did you use the Anti-Terrorism Law to anticipate the situation in the country?”
Roxas reiterated that he would prefer to answer the questions in an executive session of the committee.