After Quiapo blasts, Manila mulls creation of crisis committee

Rambo Talabong
Former president now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada says a joint task force should be 'ready to carry out, in a moment's notice all the aspects of crisis management' whenever needed

AFTERMATH. The Manila City Crisis Management Committee is a response to multiple crises that have terrorized the capital.

MANILA, Philippines – Former president now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada wants to create a crisis management committee that will take the lead in handling emergencies in the national capital.

Estrada bared his plan following the blasts in the Quiapo district that killed two and injured at least 20 over the last two weeks.

“In every crisis, we should have a joint task force ready to carry out, in a moment’s notice, all the aspects of crisis management such as police response, public information, social services, and rescue and relief efforts,” Estrada said.

The Manila mayor tasked Johnny Yu, head of the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDDRMO), to draft the guidelines for the creation of the crisis committee.

Yu, who proposed the idea to Estrada a week after the Quiapo blasts, also cited the failed bombing of the US embassy in November, and the 2010 Luneta hostage-taking that killed 8 Hong Kong tourists.

Yu said the incidents were caused by “a lack of a unified command system” to handle the situation.

The proposed body will have as members “point persons” of the Manila government’s medical services, legal services, logistics, community relations, public safety and security, and social services.

Beyond Manila police

In proposing the creation of the crisis committee, Yu said the Manila Police District is left to take care of such emergencies, as they relate to security matters, but others should also be part of the emergency response.

“Ang nangyayari kasi ‘MPD na bahala, MPD na bahala’ (What happens is [we say], ‘MPD will take care of it’) because it is a security matter. But we weren’t able to utilize all our concerned city hall departments that can contribute so much to our emergency response,” he said.

The MPD was the first to respond to the Quiapo bombings in coordination with barangay officials. Police arrested a suspect in the first blast following a week of investigation.

Yu said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has long urged local government units to create crisis committees under their respective peace and order councils “to take decisive actions to resolve crisis or emergency.”

As for the Quiapo explosions, Yu said a crisis committee should have been activated immediately to lead not only the police follow-up operations and investigations, but also the delivery of assistance to the victims, public information, and coordination with national government agencies and law enforcement units. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.