DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/17 September) – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte threatened Tuesday to shutdown malls if they could not improve security measures in their facilities in the wake of Monday night’s twin blasts at the movie houses of two of the largest shopping malls here.
In a press conference before a security command conference at the Grand Men Seng Hotel, Duterte criticized the security measures put in place by SM City Davao and Gaisano Mall of Davao.
“If that is the way you conduct inspection, it has fallen considerably short of what has been expected from you,” Duterte said.
Past 9 p.m. Monday, an explosion hit Cinema 1 of SM City in Quimpo Boulevard followed shortly by another blast at Cinema 5 of Gaisano Mall in JP Laurel Street, reportedly leaving five persons slightly wounded.
Duterte said that mall owners must invest in high definition closed-circuit television cameras to monitor who gets in and out of their cinemas.
He recalled that in the 1990s, he ordered the closure of movie houses in the city because their comfort rooms were dirty.
Duterte stressed that he can only do so much for the city, especially “when the anti-graft law does not allow him to place police and military personnel inside private establishments to beef up their security.”
“You better do something about your security. We and the police can only supervise,” Duterte said, adding the city government is willing to provide training for security guards.
SM City and Gaisano Mall officials have yet to respond to Duterte’s call to improve their security measures.
Asked what could be the motive behind the explosions, Duterte said: “It could be an act of hate or a political statement.”
In a television interview, Senior Supt. Ronald Dela Rosa, city police director, said that the city’s bomb squad was able to identify RDX (Research Department Explosive) and PETN (pentaerythritol tetranitrate) as among the bomb components.
Dela Rosa said the IED was constructed using a can of soft drink and not intended to cause harm or injuries.
Duterte said the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under founding chair Nur Misuari “has nothing to do with the twin explosions.” The MNLF-Misuari faction has laid siege to some coastal barangays in Zamboanga City since Monday last week.
The mayor said he spoke with Misuari on the phone and that the latter had denied his group was behind the twin blasts.
Rolando Olamit, an MNLF leader here, told reporters hours after the twin blasts “that a third force, likely an international organization, was behind the bombings.”
At the command conference, Major Gen. Ariel Bernardo, 10th Infantry Division commander, echoed Duterte’s sentiment that the city government’s security efforts can only do so much.
“We cannot guard every single inch [of the city]. This is the very reason that that the Task Force Davao was created, to support the police in Davao City,” Bernardo said.
He said the Davao region remains on alert since the Kadayawan Festival last month and due to the hostilities that erupted since last week in Zamboanga.
Philip Dizon, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Davao City, said in an interview that American citizens have received since Friday travel warnings on Mindanao from the US embassy in Manila, which he forwarded to Duterte and the city police.
On September 12, the US embassy issued the bulletin “Emergency Message to U.S. Citizens: Threat Against Foreigners in Southern Mindanao.”
“Individuals associated with known extremist groups are believed to have been conducting surveillance on public shopping malls and western-based cafés in the area, as possible targets of interest. Extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests. Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, and other destinations frequented by foreigners,” it said. (MindaNews)