Posted at Dec 01 2016 11:27 AM | Updated as of Dec 01 2016 12:09 PM
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MANILA - (UPDATED) Terror alert 3 has been raised in the entire country, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Thursday, a day after two suspected terrorists declaring allegiance to the Islamic State were arrested for the foiled bomb attack on Roxas Boulevard in Manila.
"Naka-alerto na tayo, andyan na tayo sa level 3," PNP chief Director General Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa said as he presented the suspects before the media.
"They (public) should expect strong checkpoints, they should expect the Oplan Sita anytime and they should expect some raids being conducted by all security forces on suspected terrorist personalities and lairs na pwedeng pagtaguan ng mga teroristang iyan," he added.
Dela Rosa said the two suspects, who were arrested in Bulacan with the aid of a tipster, were part of the Ansar Al Khalifa, an alliance of terror groups that include the Maute Group.
The suspects have confessed that they planned the attack on Roxas Boulevard in order to secure recognition and funding from the ISIS, as well as divert state forces from pounding Maute fighters in Lanao Del Sur, said Dela Rosa.
"Ang motive nila para luluwag iyung operations doon sa Maute Group. At saka gusto nilang ma-recognize ng ISIS na talagang they are pro-ISIS, they are aligned with ISIS kung nakapagpasabog sila ng bomba at nagkaroon ng malaking pinsala, malaking casualties," he said.
A portion of Roxas Boulevard was closed while a building of the US Embassy was evacuated on Monday after a bomb was found inside a garbage can.
The suspects confessed that they transported the bomb from Mindanao to Metro Manila on board a Toyota Revo that has been recovered by the police.
Bomb found on Roxas Blvd. similar to IED in Davao blast - NCRPO "Talagang nakalusot, 'di namin na-check, our fault. Our efforts are still wanting... Sorry, nalusutan tayo," the PNP chief said.
The suspects tried but failed to detonate the bomb using a cellphone while policemen were attempting to disrupt it, Dela Rosa added. Before Monday's foiled attack, the alleged terrorists also tried to bomb Luneta Park, Dela Rosa said.
"Pumalpak lang doon, hindi sumabog kaya nilapat nila sa Roxas Boulevard, malapit sa US Embassy."
Law enforcers are still searching for three cohorts of the suspects, who have allegedly been summoned by their commanders back to Marawi, Lanao Del Sur.
Dela Rosa said there is "a very slim chance" that the three are still in Metro Manila.
Admitting that the terrorists may try to mount more attacks, Dela Rosa urged the public to "be vigilant, alert, cautious, but don't panic."