MANILA, Philippines – Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim yesterday ordered the police to increase security by deploying more cops to crowded areas in the city.
Lim told MPD acting director, Senior Supt. Danilo Abarzosa, to step up police visibility in shopping malls, mass transportation systems and the vicinity of schools as a precautionary measure.
There had been reports that the military offensive against armed groups in Basilan and Sulu could prompt retaliatory attacks in other areas, including Metro Manila.
Meanwhile, a cardboard box left right next to a building caused jitters yesterday among office workers in a busy section of Makati City who feared that it contained a bomb.
But upon inspection by explosives experts who had cordoned off the area, the box, sealed in packaging tape, was found to be harmless.
It contained wood scraps and other garbage, the Makati police said.
The box was found close to the Manila Electric Co. building on Metropolitan Avenue, San Antonio Village at 11:10 a.m., said Supt. Gilbert Cruz, chief of the Makati police.
“We just blasted the box using a water cannon so we didn’t have to open it or subject it to X-ray,” Cruz said.
The police chief added that though the area was cleared of people, they opted not to evacuate the building.
A janitor who became suspicious of the box’s contents shortly after he found it called the police.
PO2 Cristy Inocencio of the Special Weapons and Tactics unit said they immediately called up the Explosives and Ordnance Division (EOD) for assistance.
“It was a good thing the Makati police headquarters is near the area so the EOD was able to respond immediately,” she said.
The bomb squad declared the area safe at 11:50 a.m.
The Philippine National Police has raised its alert level to full alert as President Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the agency and the Armed Forces to bolster security measures in all areas.
She issued the order after 14 people were injured in a bombing incident at a public plaza in Zamboanga City on Tuesday night.
Lim asked Abarzosa to coordinate with mobile division head, Chief Supt. Rolly Tumalad, so that patrol cars could be immediately dispatched to public places.
Uniformed policemen should also monitor these areas to preempt any attempt to disrupt the peace, the mayor added.
Lim stressed that police visibility remains the best deterrent against all kinds of criminal activities.