Two “persons of interest” have been taken into custody by the police and are undergoing investigation in connection with the discovery of a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) around 100 meters away from the United States Embassy in Manila last Monday.
Philippine National Police officials neither confirmed nor denied the report but sources said one of the two was identified as Rayson Kilala Sakdal alias ‘Rashid Kilala’, 34, and a Muslim convert. He was arrested in Barangay Bagumbayan, Bulakan, Bulacan on suspicion that he was the person who left the IED in a garbage bin and hurriedly boarded a waiting white taxi.
Reports on the suspects taken into custody by the police came a day after Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa and National Capital Region Police Office director Chief Superintendent Oscar D. Albayalde released an artist computerized sketch of the taxi driver who transported and left the bomb.
“Siya mismo ang driver. Siya ang may dala ng IED. Hindi natin alam kung terorista siya na nag-rent ng taxi o taxi driver siya na nilapitan ng terorista na paki-deliver ito doon, pakilagay mo sa trash bin,” Gen. Dela Rosa told newsmen at the Quezon City Police District headquarters where he released the sketch.
The PNP chief also said that if the taxi driver was not aware that what he was ferrying was a cellphone-activated bomb fashioned out from an 81-mm mortar round, he would have agreed to the request especially if offered a hefty fee.
A police official however said that as of press time, they are yet to confirm if Sakdal was indeed the taxi driver who left the IED. Reports said that the suspect was arrested by combined operatives of the Manila Police District and the Bulacan Police Provincial Office.
Meanwhile, the United States Embassy in Manila has advised its citizens to be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance their personal security.
“Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security,” the Embassy said in its security message for US citizens here and abroad.
It added “the Embassy wishes to remind all U.S. citizens of the most recent Department of State Worldwide Caution, dated September 13, 2016, which indicates there is an ongoing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests abroad, including the Philippines.”
“Extremists have targeted sporting events, theaters, markets, mass transportation systems – including airlines, and other public venues where large crowds gather. Crowded nightclubs, shopping malls, buses, and popular restaurants have also been targets,” the advisory added.
With Cristina Lee-Pisco