DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/17 December) – City police prevented what could have been another bombing incident here, but Mayor Sara Duterte pointed out they could have done better than simply stop a suspected terrorist dead in his track.
Nonetheless, Duterte lauded Monday the police for being able to quickly stop an alleged bombing attempt by a suspected Jemaah Islamiyah member who was killed here Friday.
Killed was Mohammad Noor Fikrie bin Abdul Kahar, a Malaysian national, who checked in at Sampaguita Inn here about 7:00 p.m. on Friday with his Filipina wife, Annabelle Nieva Lee.
But it would have been better if the police had not killed Fikrie or just left him “severely injured”, Duterte said in the meeting of the City Peace and Order Council at the city hall today.
“Mas useful sa atoa ang terrorist nga buhi kaysa patay (An alive terrorist is more useful for us than a dead one) because we cannot ask a dead person questions,” the mayor said.
After Senior Supt. Ronald Dela Rosa, city police office chief, admitted that it was his command to kill Fikrie, the mayor pointed out some issues for him to consider.
She said the safety of the people at the hotel lobby where the commotion with the couple happened should have been ensured by the police.
Duterte said that while Fikrie’s wife can provide useful information, it would have been better to have the information come from him.
Dela Rosa told the council that a military intelligence unit gave the information on the suspected bomber.
After verifying the identity of Fikrie, they (police) decided not to arrest the couple in their room but asked the hotel manager to personally request the couple to vacate the room by invoking the right of management to refuse “undesirable” persons.
Dela Rosa said they waited for the couple to go down at the hotel lobby. There he grappled with Lee, who was bringing a backpack which reportedly contained an improvised bomb fashioned out of a 60mm mortar attached to a mobile phone and was “ready to explode”.
Dela Rosa said Fikrie raised a mobile phone believed to be a triggering device before police could get near him, and threatened them to explode a bomb if he would be shot.
The police official said he gave the order to shoot, but the sniper could not do it because there were many people around.
He added Fikrie took his wife out of the hotel and grabbed her backpack before running towards nearby People’s Park while being pursued by the police.
Fikrie attempted to enter the park, but the guard was quick to padlock the gate, Dela Rosa said, adding the suspect then turned right in front of the Toryano’s Restaurant where he was shot dead.
Duterte commented: “What we did with the information, mabilis, pero sa sobrang bilis meron ng nakalimutang gawin (quick, but because of too much haste some things were forgotten.) But overall we are just very relieved, wala nibuto ang bomba (the bomb did not explode). The only person who died was the terrorist.”
She advised Dela Rosa to make a list of all the positive and negative things that happened during the operation as well as identify areas for improvements.
Citing the “good intelligence information,” she said “it could have been better.”
“Ma-highlight ang mga mali man gud kung naay nibuto nga bomba (Mistakes are highlighted when a bomb would explode). But sa pagkakaron, buti nabigyan sila ng second chance na i-assess ang ginawa nila ngayon (for now, they were given a second chance to assess their action) so that next time that it happens, they would have improved response and know what they should do,” she added.
Double full alert
Dela Rosa said the police are on double full alert status, but he stressed the people may continue with their routines and celebrate the Yuletide season.
He added that city police personnel will be augmented by the Police Regional Office-11 until December 31.
However, Duterte told him to continue implementing the security integrated plan beyond Dec. 31.
The Task Force Davao (TFD) also has additional troops for the Christmas season, Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, TFD executive officer and spokesperson said.
Besana said they will also have additional two or four active canine units deployed in checkpoints at the city’s gateways.
Dela Rosa said the improvised explosive device was made in North Cotabato and entered the city by land, passing a TFD checkpoint.
“Let them (police and TFD) do their job and they will do their best to protect Davao City,” the mayor told members of the CPOC. (Lorie Ann Cascaro/MindaNews)