EDITORIAL - Disruptive threats

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Disruptive threats

Schools suspended classes and work was disrupted in government agencies that were hit by bomb threats yesterday in Metro Manila, several provinces in Luzon and in Cebu.

The National Bureau of Investigation has launched a probe of the source of the bomb threats, which sent police bomb disposal teams rushing to multiple sites that received the threats. As of late yesterday afternoon, no bomb had been found anywhere.

Security experts have pointed out that genuine bombers do not make threats to warn their targets. Stealth in fact is indispensable for the success of a terrorist attack. The country has suffered numerous deadly bomb attacks, from Mindanao to Metro Manila; none of the bombings was preceded by a threat or a warning.

Still, there’s always a chance that a witness or an insider bothered by his conscience might tip off authorities or a potential target of a genuine bombing plot. Security officials can’t afford to take chances, and are duty-bound to respond to reports of a possible bombing. They also cannot ignore reports about the discovery of suspicious packages that might contain an improvised explosive device, especially if left in critical installations or crowded areas such as railway stations. IEDs can still be defused or safely detonated.

Yesterday’s bomb threats came on the heels of similar threats received by several congressmen over a week ago, prompting the tightening of security at the Batasang Pambansa complex. The congressmen who received the threats were not identified, but Speaker Martin Romualdez was reportedly not among them.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla warned those responsible that “we will not tolerate such acts and we will go after you with the full extent of the law.” Whether his warning can be carried out remains to be seen. In Quezon City where the Department of Environment and Natural Resources central office halted operations yesterday due to a bomb threat, the QC police district found no bomb, but said the threat came from a certain Takahiro Karasawa, supposedly a Japanese lawyer linked to seven bomb threats made on Dec. 5 last year.

It’s been two months since Karasawa was named, but the real identity of the prankster still has not been established, and he’s still causing mayhem. In Philippine airports, merely making a bomb joke can put a person behind bars. Bomb threats on schools and offices create more disruptions. Yesterday’s string of threats should prompt an intensified effort to trace the source.

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