AN improvised explosive device (IED) discovered near the U.S. embassy in Manila was safely detonated, Malacañang said on Monday, November 28.
“We assure the public that this incident should not be a cause for alarm. Business and work continue as normal,” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement.
On Monday morning, an IED was found by a street sweeper named Winniefreda Francisco in a trash bin reportedly around 25 meters from the embassy’s gate, according to the Associated Press.
The explosive device was later safely detonated. Although it caused heavy traffic around the area, no one was reportedly hurt in the incident.
Since bomb’s exploding range was only about a 100-meter radius, authorities downplayed the speculations that the IED was meant for the U.S. Embassy.
“It has nothing to do with the U.S. Embassy. As far as we know, had the bomb exploded, it could not reach the Embassy building because it has only a 100-meter radius,” National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Chief Supt. Oscar Albayalde said.
According to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa, the IED was similar to the bomb used by Maute Group in the Davao Night Market blast last September.
The PNP chief said the incident could also be a possible diversionary tactic by the Maute, which is now facing military offensives from the Philippine army after the group attacked and occupied some areas of the town of Butig in the Lanao del Sur province last week.
“Unless we get hard evidence, by analysis we can theorize this can be linked to Maute because of what happened in Davao,” Dela Rosa said, describing the incident as an ‘attempted act of terrorism.’
He also denied the allegations that the bombing attempt would be used as a reason to declare martial law.
“We will not use — the government will not use an incident that will cause panic, fear, and undue harm, or even death to its own people to declare martial law,” the PNP chief told reporters.
The authorities are currently investigating the identity behind the bombing attempt.
According to Manila Police District Director (MPD) Senior Supt. Joel Napoleon Coronel, “an eyewitness said a taxi stopped several meters from the gate of the US Embassy around 2 a.m., a man got out and dumped something in the pile of garbage before speeding down the southbound lane of Roxas Boulevard.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy expressed its gratitude upon the discovery of the bomb.
“We are thankful that the municipal employee and the Philippine National Police took quick and appropriate action to ensure the safety of all,” said Molly Koscina, press attaché and First Secretary of the U.S. Embassy.
Andanar said the PNP has tightened its security measures in different crowded public places across the country.
“To ensure public safety in airports, seaports, bus and mass transport terminals, concerned transport agencies are instructed to increase the visibility and presence of uniformed personnel and heighten the screening of persons and luggage as part of our security vigilance,” the communications secretary said.