Require security plans in buildings

Torres said threats of bombing incidents would be a reality that people in some parts of Mindanao have to bear within at least five to 10 years. "That is why there is a need to educate the public about bombs or improvised explosive devices (IEDs)," he said.

In a Powerpoint presentation, Torres showed to reporters bombs and IEDs, their appearance, where people can expect to find them, its hazards to people and property and the public's possible Do's and Don't' when they find one.

He said more public awareness of  bombs will lessen the impact of the threat.

But Torres said owners of establishments should put up both preventive and responsive measures as part of their building and operations plan to help protect their property and lives.

Torres said establishments like malls, hospitals, hotels, churches and schools should have a preventive security plan and a plan to respond in case of a bombing incident.

He said a security plan prevents the entry of the explosives and other threats. Frisking is one but a bomb incident plan details procedures in case a bomb threat has been recognized.

Torres said no law has required these features in obtaining building and business permits. "But it's something that legislators have to consider. It is high time to incorporate it to the existing regulations on buildings, not only on fire prevention,” he said.

Torres acknowledged this means more investment from the establishment owners but the police and the military could extend technical assistance. He said they have already conducted lectures and put up plans for some hotel and mall owners.

"But only few have put up these measures," he said.

Torres said a bomb incident plan requires the designation of a chain of command,  a clearly defined line of authority, which will instill confidence and avoid panic.

Torres recommended the addition of fencing and lighting to buildings. He said by controlling access, the vulnerability of a facility to a bomb attack can be reduced.

He said parking should be restricted, if possible, to 300 feet from a building in a complex and heavy shrubs and vines should be kept close to the ground.

He said a highly visible security patrol can be a significant deterrent and that an adequate burglar alarm system should be installed.

He said entrance and exit doors hinges and hinge pins should be installed on the inside to prevent easy removal.

He also pushed for measures so that there will be easy identification of personnel who are authorized to critical areas and to deny unauthorized personnel.

Doors or access to boiler rooms, mail rooms, computer areas, switchboards, and elevator control rooms, he said, should be locked when not used.

Torres, however, admitted they have a shortage of bomb experts who could go around and educate people. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)