3 bomb threats in 3 days prompt class suspensions in 2 Iloilo universities
ILOILO CITY – Three bomb threats in three days have disrupted classes in two prominent Catholic universities here since Tuesday.
While police were still identifying those behind the threats and determining if these were related, youth groups condemned the threats which they said could be an offshoot of the military’s claims that students in universities in Manila were being recruited for an alleged ouster plot against President Duterte.
But Senior Supt. Martin Defensor, Iloilo City police chief, said he believed the threats were related but investigators were still determining the identity of those behind.
On Thursday, the school administration suspended for the whole day classes at the University of San Agustin (USA)-Iloilo after a message was sent to the school’s Facebook account that a bomb had been placed at the school’s Mendel Hall.
Students inside the campus were told to proceed to the football ground as the gates were closed. Those outside were not allowed to enter.
They were later allowed to go home after the school was inspected by bomb disposal personnel. In a statement, the USA said police declared the school clear and safe at 11 a.m.
“The USA administration assures its students and employees as well as the public that it will continue to implement stricter security measures to ensure safety within and around its premises,” according to its statement.
Work resumed at 1:30 p.m. but classes remained suspended.
A similar threat was sent to the school’s Facebook account around 4 p.m. on Wednesday, claiming that there was a bomb at the Rada Hall.
The threat also prompted the suspension of classes. Police declared the school clear around 6 p.m.
On Tuesday, classes were also suspended at the Ateneo de Iloilo-Santa Maria Catholic School (ADI-SMCS) after an object that was made to appear as an improvised explosive device was found near one of the gates of the campus.
“This incident is planned and intends not only to disrupt school activities but also to sow fear among our stakeholders and the whole city. ADI-SMCS condemns in the strongest terms such action. ADI-SMCS, in cooperation with the authorities, shall conduct further investigation to determine the perpetrator and pursue legal actions,” Fr. Joseph Haw, school president, said in a statement.
“We assure the public that we shall continue to intensify our security efforts to ensure a safe learning environment,” Haw said.
Defensor said they were still investigating the incidents.
Bryan Bosque, spokesperson of the youth group Anakbayan in Panay, said the bomb threats could be related to the pronouncements of officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that at least 10 Metro Manila schools were involved in a plot to overthrow the Duterte administration.
“This may also be part of efforts to sow fear among students and their parents and school administrators to stop them from protesting against extrajudicial killings and a return of martial law,” Bosque said./lb