Government agencies get bomb threats

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Several government agencies received bomb threats on Tuesday afternoon, November 8, prompting quick searches and preemptive evacuation.

At the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Director Rico Salazar of Administrative Service told Rappler in a phone interview that he learned of the bomb threat, which was sent through e-mail, at around 1:35 pm.

He said the e-mail, which was sent to at least 283 other e-mail addresses, warned of 4 envelope-sized bombs supposedly hidden in a steel cabinet located at one of the offices in the 2nd floor of the DENR central office. 

"Nakalagay: 'Kahapon namin 'nilagay, sasabog ngayong November 8, 2016, mamayang eksaktong 3 pm. Umalis na lang kayo at 'wag na ipaalam sa awtoridad,'" Salazar added.

(It was stated there: We placed it yesterday, it will explode today, November 8, 2016, later at exactly 3 pm. Just get out of there and don't report it anymore to authorities.)

The DENR immediately mobilized a team to vacate the whole building. 

Other agencies that received bomb threats were the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Labor and Employment, and the National Economic and Development Authority. 

The bomb threat came to the DILG offices at around the same time as the DENR did. DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno said threats were sent simultaneously to the central office and the agency's buildings in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Calabarzon, and the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Sueno's arrival for his 3 pm press conference was delayed until the building was declared safe. He said he got word that Malacañang received a similar threat.

The DILG chief suspected that the threats were related to the Supreme Court's decision to allow a hero's burial for former President Ferdinand Marcos. The ruling was reported in the media shortly before 1 pm and was officially announced at 2 pm.

Senior Police Officer 3 Joselito Fernandez of the Quezon City Police District told Rappler in a phone interview that they received a call from their tactical operations center regarding the bomb threat at DENR at around 1 pm on Tuesday. 

"Nag-search [sila] ng bawat filing cabinet sa 2nd floor, at umikot pa sa ibang floors para lang i-clear," Salazar said, referring to the police. (They searched every filing cabinet at the 2nd floor, and they went around to clear the other floors as well.)

Fernandez, team leader of the bomb squad that responded to the scene, declared the DENR premises safe at past 2:40 pm.

Salazar said Environment Secretary Gina Lopez already declared the suspension of work at the central office for the rest of the day to ensure the safety of all employees.

NEDA's office in Pasig City also conducted preemptive evacuation. – with reports from Khristine Montenegro/Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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