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MINDING THE STORE President Arroyo reads through the PNPs incident report on the bombings, which she calls pre-Sona noises, referring to her upcoming State of the Nation Address during the command conference she convened in the Palace on Tuesday. The PNP theorizes that the Mindanao bombings were test missions of terrorists who have just finished their improvised explosive device training. EDWIN BACASMAS


Bombings prompt Arroyo to summon Cabinet

By Tarra Quismundo, TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:03:00 07/08/2009

Filed Under: Explosion, Security (general)

MANILA, Philippines?President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Tuesday convened a command conference in Malacaang amid the rash of bombings in Mindanao, which the authorities believed were ?test missions? for new trainees of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

?The purpose of this command conference is to do swift actions to help the victims and families of the Mindanao bombings, and strategize and plan to contain the seemingly planned pre-SONA noises,? she told Cabinet members.

She was referring to her State of the Nation Address later this month.

After Sunday?s blast in Cotabato City, two bombings rocked Jolo and Iligan City Tuesday morning.

In a presentation, Director General Jesus Verzosa of the Philippine National Police said police were looking into the possibility that the bombings were test missions for ?renegade bombers? who recently finished their training in Mindanao.

Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Victor Ibrado was more specific.

?The Special Operations Group of the MILF conducted three training (sessions) in different places in Maguindanao, and these are all about improvised explosive device training. We think that most of these bombings were done as a test mission for all these trainees that graduated,? he said.

Both the military and police declared ?full alert? in Mindanao and ?heightened alert? in other areas in the aftermath of the bombings, according to Verzosa.

?We have directed our offices to secure our vital installations and intensify checkpoints. We have also deployed additional troops to these troubled areas,? he said.

Ibrado said he had directed the commanders in the Western Mindanao Command and Eastern Mindanao Command to declare red alert and ?strengthen their checkpoints.??

?I have also instructed them to provide additional EOD and K-9 teams to Cotabato and other places which are reportedly to be threatened by these bombings,? he said.

In the PowerPoint presentation, Verzosa said the police were looking into other motives behind the three bombings.

He said the bombings could be aimed at diverting the Army?s ongoing operations. These could also be extortion activities, retaliation for the transfer of ?high-risk detainees? from the Kidapawan provincial jail to the Bicutan jail, and a ?show of force? before peace talks with the MILF resume, Verzosa said.

Earlier in the day, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said that the authorities had yet to pinpoint the perpetrators, but said it would be a sign of goodwill on MILF?s part if it condemned the bombings.

After dropping names of their suspects in the church bombing in Cotabato City, the military and police were noticeably extra cautious in disclosing groups being tagged in the string of blasts that rocked Mindanao Tuesday morning.

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