2 ‘BIFF members’ nabbed in Manila
Rey Galupo (The Philippine Star) - January 7, 2020 - 12:00am

Police: No terror threat to disrupt Traslacion

MANILA, Philippines — Three days before the Traslacion or the procession of the Black Nazarene, two persons said to be connected to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were apprehended in Manila on Sunday.

Manila Police District (MPD) director Brig. Gen. Bernabe Balba, however, said they have not monitored any terror threat to disrupt the celebration of the feast of the Black Nazarene on Thursday, which draws thousands of Catholic devotees.

Arrested were alleged BIFF members Remedios Habin, 52, and Alvin Gadin, 32.

Footage from closed-circuit television (CCTV) in Barangay 664-A showed a white van emerging from an alley along United Nations Avenue and blocking the path of a silver Toyota Fortuner (NZO-697) at past 2 p.m.

Witnesses said several persons armed with long firearms alighted from the van, fired shots at the Fortuner and dragged the passengers to the van before speeding away.

The incident caused a commotion and traffic jams in the area.

After several minutes, members of the MPD Station 5 arrived at the scene.

At around 5:30 p.m., a tow truck pulled the Fortuner. Two hours later, police returned to the site and processed the vehicle.

A police official said improvised explosive devices were recovered in the vehicle.

A barangay personnel manning the CCTV said armed men went to the barangay hall after the incident and requested that the footage be erased.

Balba said the incident was a legitimate operation conducted by the National Capital Region Police Office Special Operations Unit.

He said the suspects had been under police surveillance.

“Their arrest was not in any way related to a terror plot during the feast of the Black Nazarene,” Balba told The STAR.

Asked if there were lapses on the processing of the suspects’ vehicle, which took more than six hours, Balba said the scene of the crime operatives initially wanted to bring the vehicle to the MPD Station 5 headquarters in Rizal Park.

“They brought it back to UN Avenue when they saw that the area was crowded with people conducting preparations for the pahalik and the Traslacion,”  he said.

Classes, gov’t work suspended

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno yesterday ordered the suspension of classes in all levels on Thursday as part of the feast of the Black Nazarene.

Moreno also suspended work in government offices except those involved in maintaining peace and order, public services, traffic enforcement, disaster risk reduction and management and well as sanitation.

The suspension of work in private companies is up to the discretion of their management, he said.

Road closures

The Traffic Enforcement Unit of the MPD will implement road closures and a traffic rerouting scheme on Thursday.

Independence Road, which is one of the main roads of Quirino Grandstand where the pahalik will be held, will be closed to traffic.

The procession will start from the Quirino Grandstand back to the Quiapo Church, the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene.

Starting at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, the following roads will be closed: southbound lane of Bonifacio Drive from Anda Circle to Katigbak Drive, north and southbound lanes of Roxas Boulevard from Katigbak to UN Avenue, P. Burgos from Roxas Boulevard to Jones Bridge, Quezon Bridge, and MacArthur Bridge, north and southbound lanes of Ma. Orosa from TM Kalaw to P. Burgos.

At exactly 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Taft Avenue from Ayala Boulevard leading to the Quezon and MacArthur Bridges will be closed.

Also affected are the north and southbound lanes of Taft Avenue from TM Kalaw to Ayala Boulevard, San Marcelino from NA Lopez street to UN Avenue, Romualdez from UN Avenue to NA Lopez street, P. Casal from Carlos Palanca to San Rafael, Plaza Lacson to Quiapo Ilalim, southbound lane of Quezon Boulevard from Fugoso to Quezon Bridge and the westbound lane of España Boulevard from P. Campa to Lerma street.

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