PHILIPPINE National Police chief, Director General Ricardo C. Marquez has officially activated the PNP Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Canine (EOD/K9) Group which will help respond to bomb-related incidents in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.
Headed by Senior Superintendent Remigio Gregorio, the Camp Crame-based PNP EOD/K9 Group which is under the Office of the Chief, PNP will exercise supervisory authority over all PNP bomb squads and K9 units nationwide except the Security Canine Management Division of the PNP Civil Security Group.
With its activation, all EOD and K9 units of the 18 Police Regional Offices and the different PNP National Operational Support Unit will be placed under the operational supervision of the EOD/K9 Group.
The unit will be in charge of deploying and utilizing EOD and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense specialists and assets of the national police force apart from determining operational priorities nationwide. Its activation came in the wake of several bomb hoaxes including one that disrupted classes at the Ateneo de Manila University campus in Katipunan, Quezon City and a bomb scare that snarled traffic along EDSA in Cubao, QC late last month.
The QC Police District is still investigating the person or persons behind the Ateneo bomb hoax which came during the school’s exam week as well as the persons who left what looked like an improvised explosive device inside a bus on EDSA. Personnel of the Unit will be on standby ready for deployment in any polling precincts in Metro Manila during the May 9 presidential and national elections
The PNP EOD/K-9 Group will also prepare and submit bomb threat assessments and explosive scene analysis in case of major terrorist bombings; conduct specialized training and seminars in coordination with the PNP Training Service; conduct periodic unit evaluation and regular assessment of the operational readiness of different PNP EOD units/teams; and liaise with different PNP offices, the Armed Forces, Philippine Coast Guard, Local Government Units, other government agencies and non-governmental organizations for the development of PNP-EOD units.
On the other hand, its Canine Operations Division will direct and supervise the operations of PNP K-9 Teams specifically the utilization of Explosive Detector Dogs, Narcotics Detector Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Security and Patrol Dogs and Tracker Dogs.
The same division will also help formulate and implement policies and programs for the institutionalization of a standard system for the effective utilization of Canine Units/Teams of the PNP in support of investigation, security patrol, detection of explosives and controlled/dangerous substances; conduct of area searches to locate suspects or missing persons; searching of evidence and apprehension of criminals; and for other police operations.
The PNP EOD/K-9 Group will initially have 62 police officers and men, all trained bomb disposal experts.
PNP spokesman, Chief Supt. Wilben M. Mayor explained that the Philippine Bomb Data Center, a unit equivalent to a PNP Division shall continue to exist under the PNP Directorate for Intelligence.
The PBDC will continue to provide technical intelligence reports to the EOD/K-9 Group, other PNP units and their counterparts; collate, analyze and exploit intelligence data pertaining to bomb incidents, bombs, bombers/suspects, organization, leadership and modus operandi.
It will also continue to establish and maintain a rogues’ gallery/target list of suspected terrorists, both local and foreign and maintain case-tracking of bomb-related cases.
The activation of the PNP EDO/K9 Group came in the wake of the PNP’s renewed call on the public to be wary of bomb pranks and that making or circulating any bomb joke is punishable by law.
PNP spokesman, Chief Supt. Wilben M. Mayor said that under the law, those circulating hoax warning, through email and text messages, can be held criminally liable as it constitutes a willful dissemination of false information which is punishable by law.
A lawyer-member of Philippine Military Academy Class 1985, Mayor said the perpetrator of the hoax could be charged with unlawful rumor mongering and even those who apologize for circulating the hoax can still be held liable for spreading the rumor.
Under Presidential Decree No. 1727 or the Anti-Bomb Joke Law, the malicious dissemination of false information concerning threats of bombs, explosives, or any similar devices is unlawful and carries penalties ranging from a fine of not more than P40,000 to a jail term of not more than five years or both upon conviction.
Mayor also asked the citizenry to remain calm and avoid being part of ‘bomb jokes’ or prank calls regarding bombs in the country particularly in Metro Manila. He said all violators will be arrested, jailed and charged in court.
The PNP said the public must do the following when confronted with a bomb situation:
Always keep an eye for suspicious-looking object. Familiarize to an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
Never handle a suspected IED object.
Call an expert or a bomb disposal squad to handle it. If there is no expert in your locality, call the police.
Be exceptionally observant on your surroundings for anything out of place.
Evacuate all the women and children immediately to a safer distance.
Open all windows and doors. Remove all volatile substances and unstable articles like fuel and electronic devices.
Put sand bags around the suspected object. The height of sand bags should be three times the height of the suspected object.
Inform the fire brigade, the hospital and other emergency services.
Handle the package alone if you are duty-bound to handle the object.
Mayor said that most importantly, they are asking the citizenry to always be watchful of unattended or left-behind baggage particularly inside public markets, parks, shopping malls, business centers, airports, piers, universities, churches, commercial buildings and other places of public convergence.