PNP Chief: Terror alert level 3 up in PH after Manila bombing attempt

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Terror alert Level 3 is hoisted over the entire country, Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said on Thursday--during the presentation of the suspects in the foiled bombing near the U.S. Embassy.

Dela Rosa said the public can expect more stringent checkpoints, random "Oplan Sita" meaning, random and unannounced searches on motorists, and raids on the hideouts of suspected terrorists.

He, however, called on the public to remain calm, adding there is no cause for alarm despite the terror threats in the country.

"Huwag tayo ma-alarm. Alerto lang. Do not be alarmed. Just stay alert. Be cautious, but don't panic. Enjoy Christmas," he said.

National Capital Region Police Office Chief Oscar Albayalde also said there is no need to worry because raising the terror alert does not mean there is an imminent terror threat.

"It's a security threat level. It doesn't mean na meron talagang present and imminent danger of terrorist act or terrorist bombing, sa Metro Manila in particular, Albayalde said.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the terror alert is only consistent with President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of state of lawlessness last September, following  the Davao City night market blast that killed 14 people.

Dela Rosa said a terror alert has been hoisted in the country since then.

"The PNP placed in Alert 3 to confirm with PNP Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) which put the whole PNP in extreme alert for terrorists who might commit similar acts of planting bombs in Metro Manila," Andanar said in a statement.

Andanar added the increase in security will not disrupt daily life for the public.

Suspects part of terror group

Dela Rosa said the two suspects, who are allegedly part of the group Ansar al-Khilafah in the Philippines, revealed the initial target for the bombing was Luneta, not the U.S. Embassy. But one of the suspects, identified by the police as Rayson Kilala alias Rashid, was moved by his conscience, and left the improvised explosive device in a trash can near the embassy.

Dela Rosa said the two suspects will be charged for "conspiracy to commit terrorism."

Three other suspects connected to the foiled bombing are still at large. Dela Rosa said there is a slim chance they are still in Metro Manila, as they may have moved back to Mindanao.

'Bato' says 'sorry'

Dela Rosa apologized that terrorists were able to enter Metro Manila and that a bomb nearly caused devastating damage, had it not been secured and safely detonated by police.

"Nakalusot. That is our fault. Inaamin ko. Sorry, nalusutan tayo," Dela Rosa said.

[Translation: They were able to slip through. I admit. Sorry, they were able to slip through.]

While he can't assure that a bombing attempt will not happen again, he said nevertheless, the police and military are doing all they can to keep the public secure, especially during the holiday season.

"Hindi ko masabing hindi na mauulit. But rest assued, our PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines are trying their very best to secure the country," Dela Rosa said.