CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña yesterday warned the public about a possible plot to disrupt the Sinulog festivities after barangay tanods found an abandoned bag with three rifle grenades and a flare in a residential area in Barangay Labangon last Wednesday night.
There is no intelligence report of any planned terrorist attack during the festivities, a police official said, but he reiterated the mayor’s suspicion that the grenade may be used to disrupt the Sinulog.
Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Deputy Director for Operations Pablo Labra said they could not conclude yet if the items would have been used during the Sinulog or for any election-related attack.
Osmeña and Labra urged the public to report any suspicious-looking individuals or activities to the police or the barangay officials.
“There could be a plot (to bomb) our Sinulog. It’s not reliable but we’d like to ask the public to report any suspicious activity or characters to the police or the barangay officials immediately. I don’t like to alarm, I’ll be the last person who wants to alarm anyone, but it’s a responsibility on our part,” the mayor said.
He believes that the contraband are not owned by locals.
Rifle grenades are mounted on a rifle and have an effective range of about 50 meters, and can hit a target within a 150-meter range. Labra said it can instantly kill at least three people.
“It’s serious enough that I think everybody should be on alert... What’s going to help us are people who are paranoid because I think there is a risk, it’s been too quiet...
There will be no prohibition at the sports center but everyone should be super alert and report any unusual activity,” said Osmeña.
He instructed the city’s police force to be more alert especially during the grand parade, but no prohibition will be made at the Cebu City Sports Center and the parade route.
Labra confirmed that past 11 p.m. Last Wednesday, policemen on patrol found a duffel bag abandoned at the sidewalk near Happy Valley Subdivision.
“We’d like to tell the public not to be alarmed because this is an isolated incident... There is no intelligence report on a terrorist attack but we should all be vigilant and the public should help us monitor and maintain peace and order,” he said.
They suspect that the owner abandoned the contraband to avoid being arrested at the checkpoint set up in different areas in the city.
Labra said they are still trying to identify the owner of the grenades and are still tracing where it came from.
The grenades are not available in the market and are issued to policemen and military personnel assigned in war zones.
“Posible nga gibilin na lang sa dan kay nabalaka sila nga madakpan. We cannot conclude yet if this is related to politics or to the Sinulog... the only conclusion we can make is this is related to the checkpoints,” he said.
CCPO Director Patrocinio Comendador shared that observation.
Comendador, who serves as the Sinulog security committee commander, said security measures are all in place for the celebrations.
Today, the security committee will have a final “walkthrough” on the carousel route of the Sinulog grand parade and at the Cebu City Sports Center to check what still needs to be done regarding security.
A security drill at the sports center will be staged by members of the Special Weapons and Tactics today, said Comendador.
Comendador said he will check the communication equipment mounted along the parade route. (LCR/JTG)