MANILA, Philippines – Metro Manila cops were ordered on Monday, January 28, to stay on full alert following the twin blasts in Jolo, Sulu, that killed at least 23 and injured more than 100.
The full-alert status took effect 6 am on Monday, according to National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Guillermo Eleazar.
This means intensified intelligence operations, checkpoints, and searches across the region. Policemen in Metro Manila are also not allowed to take any leaves.
Police said two improvised explosive devices blew up in succession during last Sunday’s mass at the Jolo Cathedral. The first blast happened at 8:58 am, while the second one occurred at the church’s gate when government troops arrived to secure the area. (READ: What we know so far in the Jolo Cathedral bombing)
Government is blaming the local terror group Abu Sayyaf, but ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying two suicide bombers detonated explosive belts.
Jolo Cathedral is no stranger to attacks, but this is the most fatal and the first explosion to happen inside the church, per Rappler’s research. (LIST: Jolo Cathedral bombings, attacks since 2000)
These happened after a plebiscite that ratified a law creating a new and more powerful Bangsamoro region. Sulu voted to reject it, but the law compels all members of the existing regional government – which include Sulu – to be part of the new region.
Police nationwide have been on heightened alert since January 13 in preparation for the May elections. – Rappler.com