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With Bohol poised to host ASEAN confab: Authorities not taking bomb threats lightly

TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines — The Philippine Ports Authority here is on red alert 24/7 following reports of bomb threats relayed to them by the Philippine Coast Guard on Friday, according to PPA manager James Gantalao.

“We did not take (it) for granted,” he told the media during the launch of the information kiosk at the PPA yesterday by Philippine Information Agency.

He said the PPA is tapping other law enforcement agencies to monitor movements of suspicious individuals.

The security threat, which was received by PPA Tubigon through manager Yolando Ponce from PCG of Leyte, came Bohol is set to host, for the second time, the conference of ministers and senior officials of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) sometime in April.

The first one, mostly attended by ASEAN senior officials, was in June 2014, wherein Panglao town was chosen the venue, particularly the posh South Palms resort.

Security measures are one of the main concerns for the ASEAN conference in the province.

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Gantalao said all ports in the province have been placed on red alert because of the threats received by authorities in the form of a text message.

The first text message, sent on March 10, said: “Coast guard kmsta kayo? Busy yung mga army at pulis kaka gyera. Kayo kalmante lang kayu nu? Kyo na naman kya banatan naming isa sa mga araw na ito. Subukan naming kng mgaling din kayo makigpaglaban. Ha ha ha may sasabog sa pier ng ormoc. O khit san sa pier dto sa leyte.. O malaman kng kaylan, mas maganda isa sa opisyal nyo madali naming. Good luck. #CPP NPA NDF.”

Another text messages received by PCG said, “Good lck coast guard, pwdi naming kayo pasukin ngayon.”

Two other messages followed: “Malay nyo, may sasabog na barko at opisina ng coast guard ngayon, o bukas, o sa isang  araw.”

“Baka sabihin nyo, biro lng. Pwdi kami magsample ngayon din, station nyo psabugin naming,” the last message read.

Among the security measures in place are inspection of cargoes, installation of detector equipment and several units of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras.

The intensified security effort will also come timely with the Holy Week approaching.

Complementing the usual security measures at ports are the provision of 10 K-9 units and training of their handlers, said provincial administrator Alfonso Damalerio II.

Law enforcers will be also mobilized in all municipalities hosting ports and even airport.

At a closed-door security conference presided over by Police Regional Office-7 Director Noli Taliño last Friday, the alleged bomb threats were among the agenda tackled, according to sources.

In 2010, the military declared Bohol as “insurgency-free,” a report said. (FREEMAN)

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