The entrance of Visayas State University in Baybay City jolted by bomb scare Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by Elvie Roa)
BAYBAY CITY, Leyte -- A bomb scare rocked the Visayas State University (VSU) here Wednesday afternoon, prompting school officials to suspend classes for two days.
Explosives and ordnance personnel worked overtime in sweeping and paneling the VSU compound after school officials received text messages on Wednesday, which claimed that a bomb has been planted at its premises, said Lt. Col. Ricky Reli, Baybay City chief of police.
He said two university employees received different text messages claiming a bomb has been planted at the university compound by a new recruit of the New People’s Army, in retaliation to the government’s relentless operations against the rebel group. The bomb was supposed to explode Wednesday afternoon.
The students were immediately sent out of their classrooms purportedly for a fire drill. They were directed to gather at an open space for safety.
Although some of the school administrators have been informed of the bomb scare through a text message, they decided not to tell the students so as not to cause panic.
Reli, in a phone interview Wednesday night, said bomb experts will have to scour the more than 60 hectares campus until the agricultural school is declared completely cleared.
The police estimated it will take two days to conduct the extensive bomb search, prioritizing the administration building and dormitories. They utilized four K9 dogs capable of working a maximum of six hours and had to pause for a while to take a rest.
“We requested all the students and employees of VSU to immediately inform us if they notice anything unusual at the school premises while authorities are conducting sweeping and paneling at the university grounds,” Reli said.
Meanwhile, VSU president Edgardo Tulin asked everyone to refrain from sharing unverified information from social media so as not to create unnecessary panic to the public.
“We’d like to assure you that we’re on top of the situation, and our authorities are here, helping us respond to the security threat swiftly and carefully. We’re sweeping and clearing our buildings one by one,” Tulin said in a statement.
The 93rd Infantry Battalion responded to the scene and worked jointly with the local police, Bureau of Fire Protection, Coast Guard and the Baybay Emergency Response Unit.
VSU is a university in the Philippines located in Baybay City. It is the second largest state university in the country in terms of land area, next to the University of the Philippines Los Baños campus. It is one of the leading universities in Southeast Asia for research in agriculture. (With reports from Lizbeth Ann Abella/PNA)