By Priam Nepomuceno

DND Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. (PNA file photo by Priam F. Nepomuceno)

MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. allayed the public’s fear regarding their safety amid the holiday season following Sunday’s bombing at the Mindanao State University (MSU) campus in Marawi City that killed four people and wounded at least 50 others.

“Hindi dapat kabahan ang ating kababayan dahil nasa amin ang responsibilidad na alagaan ang kanilang kaligtasan sa mga ganitong insidente (Our countrymen should not be afraid as it is our responsibility to ensure their safety against these kind of threats),” he added in a statement late Sunday.

The DND chief said President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. ordered appropriate agencies to immediately solve this case and make sure that it will not be repeated.

Teodoro, meanwhile, said the Philippine National Police (PNP) has placed all its regional offices in “red alert” status while those units in Metro Manila are on heightened alert.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Mindanao and Metro Manila were also placed on alert .

Earlier, AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said he would go to Marawi City to check the situation and hold a command conference with military and police ground commanders.

Brawner vowed they would go after the groups involved in the blast. This visit also aims to discuss how to protect the public and the communities in Marawi City who are gripped by fear, most especially those in MSU.

Meanwhile, Teodoro said the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) regional directors in Mindanao would also be in Marawi City to focus on the needs of residents.

The Chief Executive earlier condemned the “heinous act,” saying foreign terrorists were behind this.

He also vowed to hold the perpetrators accountable.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) also denounced the bombing incident.

“Acting on the instructions of President Ferdinand R. Marcos (Jr.), I have directed the PNP to send troops to set up checkpoints and enhance police visibility to protect the residents and maintain peace and order in the area,” DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said in a separate statement.

Abalos said the blast is clearly the handiwork of terrorists who want to sow fear, chaos, and confusion among the populace.

“Violence has no place in the Bagong Pilipinas (New Philippines). We assure our people, especially the families of the victims, that we will apply the full force of the law and employ all legal means to bring the perpetrators to justice,” he added. (with reports from Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)