PNP tightens security nationwide

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — PHILIPPINE National Police chief, Director General Jesus A. Verzosa, yesterday ordered stepped-up security in Metro Manila and other parts of the country in the wake of the deadly Iligan City blasts.

“We are strictly guarding churches, shopping centers, public utility terminals and all places of convergence,” said Verzosa as he asked the public to be vigilant in reporting the presence of suspected bombs and suspicious-looking persons in their area to the nearest police station.

Two improvised explosive devices left by still unidentified men in the package counters of two shopping centers in Iligan City exploded early afternoon Thursday, killing at least three people and wounding 31 others.

The blasts shook Jerry’s Bargain Center and the Unicity Shopping Center along Aguinaldo Street Extension in Iligan City while Verzosa was presiding over a command conference in Camp Crame to assess the national security situation.

Reports from the Police Regional Office 10 identified two of those killed as Erwin L. Suico,20, an employee of the Jerry’s Bargain Center and Jonas Badelles, a baggage attendant at the same establishment.

Among those wounded were POs 1 Renario Boot and Marvin Apostol, both members of the 4th Company of the Police Regional Mobile Group 10 based in Kolambugan, Davao del Norte.

“Definitely, this is the handiwork of terrorists. This is not the work of extortionists since these establishments are not big malls although they are packed with Christmas shoppers,” said PRO10 director, Chief Supt. Teodorico B. Capuyan Jr.

The first bomb exploded at the baggage counter of the Unicity Shopping Center 1:30 p.m. Fifteen minutes later, another bomb exploded also at the baggage counter of the Jerry’s Bargain Center which is just adjacent to the first establishment.

Capuyan said he ordered his field commanders in Northern Mindanao to remind anew all commercial centers in the region to constantly alert their security personnel of suspicious packages being left unattended or deposited in package counters.

“The security guards in the two establishments were under strict order to keep a tight watch on packages being deposited in their package counters. They obviously relaxed and gave the suspects the opportunity to plant the bombs,” he said.

Capuyan said he has placed the PRO10 on full alert in the wake of the deadly bomb attacks.