MANILA -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) is on heightened alert nationwide after the deadly blast in Jolo, Sulu that left 20 persons dead and 112 others wounded Sunday.
PNP spokesperson, Senior Supt. Bernard Banac said on Monday the alert status is being implemented to ensure that no similar attack would be carried out in other regions.
“PNP chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde has placed the entire PNP under nationwide heightened alert effective midnight of January 27, 2019 in the aftermath of the Jolo Cathedral explosion," Banac said during a press briefing held at Camp Crame.
With the heightened alert status, police are also mandated to intensify intelligence, search and checkpoint operations and to strictly implement the election gun ban. Policemen are also not allowed to go on leave.
Banac said the regional directors were also instructed to "initiate further security measures to preempt and prevent similar incidents to happen in your areas". They were also given discretionary authority to raise alert conditions in their areas of responsibility as deemed necessary.
“Based on our best practices in PRO 11 and PRO 12, mobilizing the community to help secure the communities is very effective coupled with a better harmonized and well-coordinated efforts of the PNP, AFP and LGUs,” said Director Mao Aplasca, head of the PNP Directorate for Operations.
Albayalde on Monday flew to Jolo to check on the ongoing probe into the explosion. He said investigators are gathering pieces of evidence for the possible identification of the group or suspects behind the blast.
Albayalde said it could not be determined yet what kind of bomb was used for the blast.
"Walang ma-recover na mga residue at mga parts although may mga nakuha silang mga parts na cellphone. Ang hinala nila most probably talagang cellphone detonated dahil nasa timing ito at 'yung diperensya ng timing nung isang blast at 'yung pangalawa around mga 12 to 15 seconds so talagang ito ay electronically detonated ang hinala ng ating EOD (Explosives Ordnance Division) (There were no bomb residue or parts although some cellphone parts were recovered from the blast site. The EOD said the blasts could be electronically detonated because the time difference between the blasts was around 12 to 15 seconds)," he said.
Albayalde said security operations in the area were beefed up by police checkpoints and road blockings.
Latest data from the PNP show that of the 20 reported killed, five were military personnel, one from Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and 14 were civilians. Of the 112 wounded, 90 were civilians, 18 were from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, two from PNP, and two Coast Guard personnel. (PNA)
Photo by Cathrine Gonzales/Inquirer