MANILA, Philippines – Metro Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde on Sunday, April 30, said police will not comment on reports that terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for an April 28 blast in Quiapo, Manila “until we confirm with certainty that such claim was really made by them.”
Still, the top cop of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) insisted that “there are no confirmed reports on any presence of members of ISIS in the country.” The PNP has said in the past that the “ISIS-inspired” Maute Group was already in Metro Manila.
On Friday evening, April 28, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded in a commercial area in Quiapo, the same day regional leaders flew into the country for the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila.
Police immediately ruled out any possibility of the blast being a terror threat, saying it was the result of a local scuffle.
Albayalde himself insisted the blast has nothing to do with the ASEAN Summit. “This has nothing to do whatsoever. This is not a terror attack,” he said.
At least 14 people were injured in the blast. Most of the victims have since been discharged from the hospital.
On Saturday, April 29, SITE Intelligence Group said the ISIS-run Amaq News Agency “reported that the group is responsible for a bombing in Manila, the capital of the Philippines.”
Albayalde said that based on the evidence, “there is nothing to indicate or show that the Quiapo explosion is connected with any terrorist or threat group.”
“We maintain that this incident is nothing but a local peace and order concern involving feuding gangs or persons in the Quiapo area. As in the past, several similar incidents transpired in the said area already,” he added.
A minor had apparently been beaten up by 3 individuals on April 26. Police’s initial findings point to the blast being an act of “revenge” by the minor’s father.
“It would also appear that again, as in several instances of acts of violence or disruption of peace and order in other countries, ISIS is grabbing the opportunity to promote their cause and interest, and gain global recognition by claiming outright responsibility for the said explosion,” said Albayalde. – Rappler.com