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DOJ orders NBI to probe hoax bomb threat on gov’t agencies

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Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Monday directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a thorough probe into the bomb threats received via email by several government agencies and local government units (LGUs).

“There should be no place for pranks or spreading fear among our people,” Remulla said in a statement. “Let this be a warning to those behind this that we will not tolerate such acts and we will go after you with the full extent of the law.”

Unverified reports of bomb threats circulated on various social media platforms Monday morning, leading to the suspension of classes in some schools and work in government offices, including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) central office in Quezon City.

Several netizens also went online to share their anxious thoughts about it.

The threat stemmed from a suspicious email sent by a certain Takahiro Karasawa, who identified himself as a Japanese lawyer and claimed to be a bomb expert. At 3:50 a.m. on Feb. 12, it reached the inbox of Department of Education (DepEd) in Bataan and other official government emails.

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Karasawa threatened to detonate the bombs at approximately 3:34 p.m. His message also had an anarchistic tone. “What color is the sky? It is time, all human beings, to reclaim your freedom. I’m watching the 20 years later of you. Power to a voiceless voice,” he said.

A cursory Google search of his name yielded similar stories of bomb scares that also happened in other countries. The Korea Times, a newspaper based in Seoul, South Korea, reported about a similar issue last year, which targeted various government offices in that nation as well.

This is also not the first time that Philippine government agencies received such threat from the same sender. In September last year, the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) went through a similar incident, according to the Quezon City Police District (QCPD).

DepEd Bataan had to dismiss classes in public schools as a matter of precaution. A SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team stood by the provincial capitol, following the bomb scare this morning, according to Philippine National Police (PNP) Bataan Director Palmer Tria.

DENR Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga ordered the suspension of afternoon work after receiving the same email and alerted the authorities to investigate the premises. The QCPD Explosives and Ordnance Division (EOD) responded to the bomb threat before 9:00 a.m.

“Upon conducting paneling operations and thorough inspections, the results yielded negative and no signs of any bombs or any improvised explosive device was found thereat,” the QCPD-EOD said.

In an advisory released Monday afternoon, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) received confirmation from the PNP Bomb Disposal squad that there were no explosive devices found in its office building.

“As per the report of the Team Leader, the building inspection conducted with two (2) K9 bomb sniffing dogs was negative,” PIA said.

The authorities also gave similar assessment to three other related government agencies they inspected this morning, including the APO Production, Inc. and the Presidential Broadcast Service.

“We advise everyone not to panic and be vigilant,” PIA added in its advisory. — With Butch Gunio

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