Bombing aftermath: Security level raised in Davao

Romeo Serra, Mindanao Business Council (MinBC) chair, said the bombing incidents will have chilling effects on foreign investors coming in. "But not as much on local businessmen and investors," he said in a message sent to MindaNews.

Bomb explosions Wednesday killed seven people and wounded 34 others in the cities of General Santos, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Col. Alan P. Luga, commanding officer of the Army's Task Force Davao, said security measures have been increased in Davao with more check points, patrol operations, and constant monitoring of entry points to the city.

Alert level has already been raised in time for the original schedule of the ASEAN summit in Cebu in December. "We just heightened our operations after the bombing incidents," he said.

Luga said the public could expect more frisking when entering establishments and in passing through checkpoints.

He said they will also deploy bomb-sneaking K-9 dogs in specific areas to augment manpower.

Luga said there has been no apprehension yet of any suspected individuals coming in through the city's check points.

Lt. General Rodolfo Obaniana, commanding general of the military's Eastern Mindanao Command, in an interview with Radyo ng Bayan Thursday, said it is very possible that the bombings were done by the Abu Sayyaf Group although they would still need further investigation.

He said it could not possibly be a work of just one person. He said there is a possibility the bombings was timed for the ASEAN summit to embarrass the government.

Col. Benito de Leon, chief of staff of the military's Davao-based 10th Infantry Division, said they are looking at the signatures of the bombs used.

Serra told MindaNews law enforcers and the military should do a better job. "Intelligence funds are wasted if bombings are not solved," he said.

Chief Supt. Andres G. Caro, regional director of the Philippine National Police in Southeastern Mindanao, said there is really no "perfect security" but joint forces of the military and the police have instituted layers of security measures.

"We will try to prevent, delay, slow down, or definitely stop any infiltration of the enemy on the layers of security," he said.

Davao Police Director Catalino Cuy said the city has three layers of security starting from checkpoints in the approaches to the city such as that in Sirawan and from Bukidnon; the immediate approaches to Davao's downtown area; and the troops deployment in establishments such as malls, hotels, and transport terminals.

Cuy said they have coordinated with security officers of these establishments and advised them to intensify alert level in and outside of their premises.

Malls have led establishments in increasing security measures starting Thursday. Security guards at the NCCC Mall in Matina now check taxi compartments closely, unlike in ordinary days when only personal belongings of mall-goers are frisked at the entrance.

Mall-goer Anita Paz, 39, said she doesn't really mind the hassle if it is done for the common good.

Commuters also balked at the various checkpoints installed in highways approaching Davao City.

Donato Mondero, 46, who traveled from Cagayan de Oro, said they were made to go down the bus for the inspection.

The bombing Wednesday evening came three months after four persons were injured when a bomb exploded at the public market in Tacurong City on Oct. 10. Eight hours later, another bomb exploded on the roadside fronting the Makilala town hall, killing six and injuring 29 others. On Oct. 11, another bomb exploded in Cotabato City but no one was injured.