President Benigno Aquino III told reporters on Tuesday that the terror threat he relayed to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte that sent Davao City on high alert over the weekend on a “raw report” that is still being verified by security forces.
“I passed on to Mayor Duterte a raw report – may I emphasize ‘raw.’ I just wanted to make sure that he was given all of the pertinent information to adequately prepare Davao,” Aquino said in a news conference at Clark Air Base in Pampanga.
But the President was quick to justify his warning to the mayor about the threat, “[The] Mayor as a head of the Peace and Order Council for Davao City should be made aware of pertinent information… to adequately prepare his community for it,” Aquino said.
The President said the report stated that a terrorist bomb maker had sent a bomb or a bomb-laden vehicle to Davao City “to further a terrorist attack.” He added that “the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are actively determining the validity of the report and continuing operations against this known terrorist.”
“That operation in Davao City in particular is still unverified. Number one, that might be all psychological operations of this guy na pagkatagal-tagal na nakakalaya, ngayon talagang nararamdaman na niyang pasikip ng pasikip ang mundo niya,” the President said.
Mayor Duterte has earlier revealed that he was alerted by Aquino about a potential terrorist threat in the south posed by bomb-making expert Abdul Basit Usman.
Usman, who was previously reported to have been killed in the Afghanistan border in 2010, has a $1-million bounty on his head.
Security sources said Usman might be planning to bomb key cities in Mindanao including Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and Cotabato to avenge the death of two of his relatives who were killed in a recent military offensive in Maguindanao.
Usman is reportedly training members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on bomb-making.
Following the President’s warning, local authorities in Davao have been on heightened alert.
Officials have also assured the public that government forces in Mindanao have always been on alert to thwart untoward incidents.