DAVAO CITY -- Traffic snarled throughout this city’s center for hours Wednesday as members of Task Force Davao, Police Regional Office (PRO), and Rescue 911 took part in simultaneous bomb response drills.

Task Force Davao chief Colonel Oscar Lactao said the drill was successful in the sense that it showed the response units’ preparedness in handling any possible bombing incidents.

For updates from around the country, follow Sun.Star on Twitter

Davao's history would show that the city has been a victim of a spate of bombings in 2003, with scores of people killed and countless others injured as explosives ripped the waiting shed of the Davao International Airport and the passenger terminal of Sasa Wharf.

"We conducted the bomb drill in Buhangin, Toril, Rizal Street, at People's Park, and other areas of convergence [that] can be targets of terrorists," Lactao said.

Task Force Davao is the city's counter-terrorism unit that conducts and implements security measures to avert the threat of terrorism in the city, which is the premier financial and tourism hub in Mindanao.

Authorities rushed to different locations Wednesday in response to seven scenarios involving improvised explosive devices (IED) from 7:35 a.m. to 11:20 a.m.

"Sa St. Peter's College in Toril, they handled an unattended baggage, another was a four wheel vehicle-borne IED coming from the south, then a motorcycle-borne IED from the north, an arrest of a suspected person sa vicinity ng Rizal Park at San Pedro, then a bomb detonation sa may Iñigo Street. Sa People's Park may pumutok and they had to conduct an actual mass casualty evacuation, then another arrest procedure on a suspected person," Lactao said.

After the drills, Lactao, Davao City Police Office (DCPO) chief Senior Superintendent Rene Aspera, and Central Communication and Emergency Response (911) OIC Ret. Col. Mario Verner Monsanto, among others, held a meeting at 911 office along Ponciano to assess the exercise.

Lactao said the authorities' response is more on the need to improve their communications.

"We have to review our intervention operations, and review individual relay of feedback," Lactao said.

"Mas maganda kasi yung nabo-broadcast sana sa marami. For example, may incident sa isang area hindi na from one to another but from one to all response units kaagad," Lactao said.

He also said not all response teams on Wednesday knew the drill locations in order to test their alertness and performance.

"This is to test their reaction time and naging mabilis naman," Lactao said.

He clarified the explosions Wednesday were not caused by actual bombs but were only detonators.

"What they (the response units) did were only disruption techniques. Kunwari may bomb, they will only detonate it. Hindi nila papuputukin ng 100 percent but only five percent so the damage is only minimal," Lactao said.

He said the bomb drill was the first citywide drill for the year and it will be held again in July in time for the Disaster Preparedness Month. (CPM/JCZ/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)