Bomb threat prompts evacuation of hospital in Tagbilaran
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol — Chaos broke out at the Borja Family Hospital, a private hospital here, on Tuesday afternoon as patients and their watchers and staff members were evacuated from the building due to a bomb scare.
Police rushed to the hospital on Gallares Street in Poblacion 2, past 2 p.m., shortly after Lilia Cantuba, who was in charge of the information desk, received a call from an unidentified man. Speaking in Filipino, the man told her that a bomb had been planted in the hospital and that it would explode anytime.
Cantuba told the management about the call and the police were immediately alerted.
Members of the Special Weapons and Tactics of Tagbilaran, Quick Response Teams, and the Explosive and Ordinance Team went to the hospital with their equipment and bomb-sniffing dogs.
The search was made on all seven floors of the building while the patients and personnel were taken outside the building.
Natividad said the second floor, where operating and intensive care units (ICU) were located, was first cleared.
Surgeons and hospital staff had to stop the operations since they were asked to leave the building.
At that time, the hospital was conducting a cleft lip palate surgical mission.
“I don’t want anybody to get hurt,” Senior supt. Felipe Natividad, chief of the Bohol Provincial Police Office, said. “Whether it was true or not, it was difficult to leave it chance the lives of these people. So, I decided to ask the hospital for evacuation, especially the patients.”
Natividad said the bomb threat was not connected to the on-going three-day meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) 34th Maritime Transport technical working group in Panglao town that started on Thursday.
At least 3,500 security personnel were deployed to Bohol last Sunday for the event, where about 200 delegates from the Asean nations – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, and Philippines – including ministers and their staff, were expected to attend.
“There is no security threats in the ASEAN meetings in Panglao,” Natividad said.
Since the bomb threat was a first in Bohol, he said the incident served as eye-opener about the need to create protocols to respond to bomb threats.
“We will take note of this,” Natividad said. “We will come up on security measures natin para sa mga bomb scares.”
The bomb threat turned out to be a hoax.
At 5 p.m., the hospital was declared clear and the patients were brought back inside.
Dr. Pepe Borja, owner of Borja Family Hospital, said the bomb scare had no impact on the health and safety of patients and normal hospital service resumed. /atm