THE Philippine National Police Explosives and Ordnance Disposal Division/K9 Group has released anew bomb prevention and detection tips to inform the public what to do when confronted with any literal explosive situation particularly during the forthcoming Yuletide Season. The unit is embarking on a massive public awareness program in the wake of a series of bomb hoaxes that have hit several schools and universities in Metro Manila as well as the presence of a novelty gift -- an alarm clock with fake dynamites -- which triggered the evacuation of a condominium in Malate, Manila late last week.
First, PNP EOD/K9 director, Senior Superintendent Remigio Gregorio said people should know ways on how to avoid or not be a victim of terrorist bombing. Tips include the need for the public to be vigilant when in crowded places since groups of people are the primary targets of terrorists.
Second, Gregorio said the public should be aware of unattended bags, luggage, boxes and vehicles in public places amid the possibility it may contain explosives.
Third, he emphasized the need for people to be aware of possible Improvised Explosive Devices or IED indicators such as metallic items, electric wires, switch and power source like battery, clock and if not visible, its ticking sound, radio or cellphone connected to wires, LED lights, bulb or other electronic parts as well as nails, ball bearings, bolts and nuts or steel rods cut into much smaller pieces.
Fourth, Gregorio said people must not touch unusual items placed in manholes or trash cans. He said that when in public area, the public should note the description and location of the suspected bomb, avoid touching, moving, tampering or transporting the material; immediately call the attention of persons in authority; always seek cover from the direction of the suspected bomb; and leave the area immediately or go to a much safer distance.
At home, leave the area immediately after discovering a suspected bomb or IED material. Gregorio said the homeowner should also quickly inform the nearest police station of his finding and follow directions from authorities.
After an explosion, the official said people should avoid crowds as they may be targeted by a secondary attack. “Leave the area as soon as possible and stay away from unattended vehicles since they may contain explosives,” he said.
Also, Gregorio said the public, in the aftermath of an explosion, must stay away -- at least 20 yards from a damaged building to avoid falling debris. If possible, call the attention of authorities and once in a safe area, help others who are hurt or need assistance. “If you see someone who is seriously injured, seek help. Do not try to manage the situation alone and listen to your radio or television for news update,” he said.
Gregorio said the following emergency hotlines should also be jotted down. They include the PNP EOD/K9 Group’s Bomb Squad hotline 721-8544 and 413-8697 and the National Capital Region Police Office Bomb Squad at 837-6080.
Wanted: More equipment for PNP EOD/K9 units
RANGED against both known and unknown terror groups and other lawless elements as well as pranksters, officials have underscored the need to fully equip PNP Explosives and Ordnance Disposal Division and K9 units with enough manpower, resources and special equipment they need while dealing with any deadly bomb situation.
Officially activated as a PNP national support unit only last April 22, right now, the PNP EOD/K9 Group headed by Gregorio only boast of 39 officers and men highly-trained for any bomb and explosives threat.
Across the country, there are only 679 trained police bomb experts compared to the ideal 2,385. Presently, there are 461 EOD units and 181 K9 units operating nationwide, majority of them without the necessary protection unlike their counterparts from other modern countries in Asia, Europe, United States and other parts of the globe.
Just look at these figures: the PNP EOD/K9 Group only has 35 EIC kit with bomb suit, x-ray and disruptors very much less than their proposed 182 kits; 17 post-blast investigation kits as opposed to the ideal 204; 26 Jensen Tool Kits compared to the proposed 195; 32 Hook and Line Kits compared to the proposed 188; 19 metal mine detection units compared to the proposed 200; 8 metal detectors as opposed to the proposed 202 units; 6 bomb baskets compared to the proposed 33; and 23 vehicles as opposed to the proposed 198.
The fact also remains that only a very few EOD units in the PNP are equipped with necessary equipment like bomb suits, x-ray logos, disruptors and robotics; only a few EOD/K9 units are with issued motor vehicles; and existing EOD equipment are either donated by the United States thru its Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program or by local government units.
When it comes to trained dogs, there are only 177 existing trained canines by the EOD/K9 Group composed of dogs trained to detect explosives, narcotics, protection and security patrols and tracking fleeing criminals.
Of the number, only 98 are owned by the PNP while 58 are donated and 11 were loaned by other stakeholders. Of the total, only 160 remained effective as compared to the required 520.
The importance of the PNP EOD/K9 Group has been tested in major events like the 2015 papal visit, the 15th Congress, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and the 15th Congress.
This year, its men have shown their worth in securing the 2016 national and local elections, the 17th Congress and SONA, the FIBA 2016 and the ASEAN Chief Justice Round-Table meeting.
But despite the tremendous manpower and resources’ shortage, officers and men of the unit are not complaining and are seeing to it that they will do their job with dedication, even at the extent of risking their lives.
During the 2000 infamous Rizal Day bombings, two bomb technicians were killed while attempting to disrupt a powerful bomb placed by terrorists in Makati City.
The unit is also warning the public that making any bomb threat or joke is a crime under Presidential Decree 1727. The law declared as unlawful the malicious dissemination of false information or the willful making of any threat concerning bombs, explosives or any similar device or means of destruction. Bomb joke is punishable with imprisonment of not more than 5 years or a fine of not more than P40,000 or both at the discretion of the court.