'Bomb found on Roxas Blvd. may be diversionary tactic of Maute group'
MANILA - The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday vehemently denied that government orchestrated a bomb threat on Roxas Boulevard in order to pave the way for the declaration of Martial Law on the basis of rampant lawlessness.
"For God's sake, the government will not use an incident that will cause panic, fear and undue harm to its own people to declare Martial Law. Hindi namin magawa iyan, what if anak namin ang matamaan niyan?" PNP chief Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa said.
"Isipin niyo may Diyos na nakatingin sa ating lahat kaya h'wag niyong i-insinuate na government ang may pakana nito."
Police closed off a section of Roxas Boulevard in Manila after a suspected bomb was found inside a trash can near the US Embassy on Monday.
People were also evacuated from an office of the US embassy, which is just around 100 meters away from the trash can.
Manila Police District (MPD) chief Senior Superintendent Joel Coronel declared the bomb threat negative, but he was later contradicted by regional police head, Oscar Albayalde, who said an improvised explosive device (IED) was found in the area.
Albayalde and Dela Rosa both said that the IED is similar to an explosive used in the bombing of Davao City where 14 people were killed and 67 others were wounded last September 2.
The Davao blast, allegedly masterminded by the Maute terrorists, prompted President Duterte to declare a state of lawlessness over the entire country.
MAUTE BEHIND FOILED ATTACK?
Dela Rosa said it is possible that Monday's bomb threat is a "diversionary tactic" of the Maute terrorist group, which is now battling state forces in its stronghold in Butig, Lanao Del Sur.
"Pwede nating i-theorize na pwede nila itong diversion para luluwagan natin iyung sa Central Mindanao," he said.
masyado malayo nakababa agad?
Asked if Maute fighters have already entered Metro Manila, Dela Rosa did not give a direct answer but merely said, "E nakita niyo andyan na nga [ang bomba]. Sinong magdala n'yan dito?"
He also said the PNP has intelligence reports on the terrorists' movements, but this information is classified.
But Dela Rosa also emphasized there is "hard evidence" yet that Maute terrorists are behind the foiled attack, which he said may have also been planned by anti-US groups.
TIGHTER SECURITY CHECKS
Policemen, who have been in full alert since the Davao bombing, has started beefing up security checks and intelligence gathering efforts in Metro Manila, Dela Rosa said.
Albayalde added that police checkpoints will be set up again across Metro Manila.
The PNP urged the public to stay calm amid the tightened security and report any suspicious activities.
"Maghihigpit tayo sa security. Mag-iingat tayo. But please, do not panic," Dela Rosa said.