MANILA–The Philippine National Police (PNP) has foiled another sinister attempt by the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria)-inspired Maute Group to launch terrorist acts in the country’s capital.
“I am glad that alert operatives of the NCRPO (National Capital Region Police Office) discovered and intercepted in time an improvised explosive device being prepared by the suspects even before it can be delivered to its possible target or used elsewhere,” PNP chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said at a press conference in Camp Crame on Tuesday.
Dela Rosa also presented to the media suspected Maute terror group member, identified as Nasip Ibrahim, 35, a native of Marawi City.
Ibrahim was arrested in a police operation in Salam Compound, Barangay Culiat, Quezon City on Monday night.
“We are yet to uncover the circumstances surrounding this incident involving the Lanao-based Maute Group, but, this discovery leads us to believe that the Maute Group has already established presence in Metro Manila, as to what extent, that is the subject of our follow up investigation and operations,” Dela Rosa said.
Seized from Ibrahim’s possession include a Colt caliber .45 pistol loaded with four live ammo, a caliber .45 pistol loaded with six live ammo, one KG 9mm machine pistol with 34 live ammo, a 60mm mortar shell with detonating device and seven heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets of shabu.
The suspect was one of the Maute group members allegedly involved in the foiled bombing attempt in the vicinity of US Embassy in Manila in November last year.
“I do not want to sound alarmist or cause panic, but prudence, it has been said, is the better part of valor. I therefore, urge our people to remain calm yet alert and vigilant of the presence of threat groups in our midst,” Dela Rosa said.
The suspect is facing charges for violation of PD 1866 as amended by Republic Act No. 10591, or the “Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act”, RA No. 9516, or the “Unlawful Possession of Explosives”, RA No. 9165, or the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002”, and obstruction of justice for apparently concealing a wanted person.
Likewise, Dela Rosa assured that the PNP, in cooperation with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, remains on high alert against any threat to peace and order and public safety.
In the same press conference, NCRPO chief Director Oscar Albayalde, together with Quezon City Police District director Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar, confirmed that Metro Manila is now on “high security threat level” after Ibrahim’s arrest.
Albayalde said the PNP is continuously focused on “target-hardening measures” since there is a possibility that members of the terrorist group have established their presence in Metro Manila.
He said one of the leaders of the Maute Group, identified as Yusof Makoto, is reportedly in Metro Manila.