THE city police and military dismissed claims that Wednesday's bomb drill in preparation for the Kadayawan Festival failed.

Task Force Davao (TFD) deputy chief, Lt. Col. Jose Eriel Niembra, and Davao City Police Office director, Sr. Supt. Rene Aspera, said there may have been "procedural lapses" during the five-scenario bomb drill but it was "still considerably a very successful one."

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Niembra and Aspera are reacting to reports that during their first drill at the Davao International Airport there were passengers who became late for their flights.

"Ang nangyari kasi is on the first area for the drill, at the airport, a bystander was quick to report on seeing an unattended box. Napaaga yung pagdating nga mga respondents at nagkasalubong yung mga paalis na pasahero at yung respondents. Meron ring observation na hindi capable yung security sa area na mag-handle ng ganoong scenario," Aspera said during the AFP-PNP-Press Corp media briefing Thursday at the TFD headquarters in Sta. Ana wharf.

"Pero kung iisipin naman, kung totoong may bombing talaga roon eh hindi naman talaga pwedeng padaanin yung mga pasahero. Talagang hindi dapat mago-operate. Ang purpose naman talaga is para makita natin yung readiness ng mga responder sa ganoong scenario," Aspera added.

Niembra gave a rating of "very satisfactory" to the performance of all the military and police security personnel and emergency response teams.

"The response time in all drill areas has improved from seven hours to fours hours based on the previous drills conducted in almost the same areas. Usually it would take seven to eight hours before and now naging mas mabilis yung response at mabuti nga iyon at nakita natin yung mga kakulangan pa na dapat punan," Niembra said.

"We have to understand that this is a training to find out what are the probable lapses in hope that in the real (thing) we could fine tune responses and would minimize this. It's hard to make mistakes when we're talking about life and death situation," Niembra added.

Improvements

Among the things Niembra and Aspera pointed out as matter that needs improvement following the drill was to improve the communication on security between vital establishments and the enforcers.

"It came out yesterday doon sa mall, they have their own contingency plan hindi gaano in tune sa response plan namin. These have to be in harmony with each other. Ang nakita natin na kailangan pang i-improve is the integration of the contingency plans of vital establishments, such as yung airport, and private establishments with our overall response plan. Especially for the security guards. It turns out that most of them, if not all are clueless of the security measures during emergency situations," Niembra said.

Aspera also noted that in the course of the drills which followed one after another, there was a shortage of fire trucks and ambulance. "Another thing kasi when alam na drill iyon hindi na talagang pinipilit na lumabas yung mga firetruck and ambulances kasi meron rin silang regular na operation," he said.

During a bombing scenario, both officers said crowd control is a must.

"Kung meron na ngang nangyayari, tendency as it has been observed repeatedly is yung mga tao. Tendency ng mga Pinoy na kung saan yung scenario gusto nilang tumingin but it should be at a distance because it might only endanger them in the course of getting rid of the bomb," Aspera said, adding that the matter should be among the things to be discussed before the City Peace and Order Council.

Joint security plan

Niembra said TFD and DCPO have signed a joint operation plan dubbed "Kabalikat" as their combined efforts for Kadayawan Festival.

"We have signed this and this will be presented during the final security briefing (today) to the City Mayor. We already had all activities covered from the time of opening to the activities especially those that gathers the most crowd," Niembra said.

Niembra said they have received augmentation from the 10th Infantry Division of troops under the 69th, 84th, and 39th Infantry Battalion. On Wednesday, TFD spokesperson Lt. Arvin Pedrosa said they received a total of 85 personnel.

"As the Kadayawan activities come to peak by next week, we expect to receive more augmentation coming from the service group in tie up with the PNP and other stakeholders like the Civil Service Unit of the city," Niembra said.

Aspera said they received augmentation of 48 personnel from the Public Safety Battalion and 348 scouts from the Civil Defense are currently undergoing in preparation for the security plans during the festival.

Drills

At 7:50 a.m. Wednesday, an unattended box believed to be containing an improvised explosive device (IED) was set up at the parking area of the Davao City International Airport, bringing in the Army's Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and K9 team to the area.

Right after the IED in the airport was disposed, another report came around 8:50 a.m. that an unattended baggage was also sighted in front of the Chowking restaurant fronting Victoria Plaza in Bajada. The area was cordoned and the IED was disposed.

Around 9:05 a.m., a black and gray Kawasaki motorcycle without a plate number suspected to be carrying an IED was seen at SM city Mall heading towards the downtown area. Units from Central 911 and Mobile Patrol Teams were alerted and stopped the staged bomber on the spot. The IED was also disposed.

At 9:25 a.m., a black Starex van plate number LGP 194 parked in front of the Davao City Overland Transport Terminal Office (DCOTT) was discovered to be containing unattended baggage suspected to an IED. The vicinity was cordoned and the IED disposed.

The last scenario was staged with an explosion and several casualties in the area. At 9:50 a.m., Pedrosa said a suspicious-looking person wearing white t-shirt, maong pants and red baseball cap carrying a black pack bag was spotted walking along Quimpo Boulevard, rode a white multicab with plate number LWM-844, and then headed towards Marco Polo Hotel.

The multicab was stopped beside Osmeña Park where 29 persons looked to be victims of the explosions. Emergency medical respondents were quick to aid the "victims." Enforcers were able to place everything under control around noon. (Jade C. Zaldivar)