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Troops fall short in Camp Aguinaldo bomb drill

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:22:00 05/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines — A search for a vehicle had military bomb disposal experts failing to respond fast enough to an unannounced drill on Monday that simulated the entry of a car bomb into Camp Aguinaldo, the camp commander said.

Three soldiers, dressed in civilian clothes, drove a Honda City sedan past guards at Camp Aguilando’s Gate 6, on Boni Serrano Avenue near C-5, road between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.

They then stopped the car near the gate and ran away, said Brigadier General Romeo Espino.

A stash of C4 explosives hidden in the car’s trunk was detected by bomb-sniffing dogs when a team from the Explosives and Ordnance Division (EOD) arrived at the scene, he said.

But the EOD team’s “reaction time was a little bit delayed” because “they were looking for a vehicle,” Espino said with a laugh.

“I told them that it shouldn’t be like that. They should run if they have to and get any available vehicle,” he said.

Asked if the slow response made the camp vulnerable to attack, Espino said: “Hindi naman vulnerable [Not really vulnerable].”

“We want to make sure that the EOD reacts immediately. They have blankets to limit the damage in case [the bomb] explodes. Time is very critical here,” he said. “If there is no reaction, it can explode and cause big damage. That’s why we conduct inspections.”

The military police (MPs) guarding the gate were informed that a preparedness drill was ongoing when the three soldiers ran from the car, Espino said.

The camp commander said the response of the MPs were “okay” since they were able to report the incident to the camp’s command center quickly.

He said MPs guards are trained not to shoot at vehicles that drive past them without submitting to inspection unless they are sure the occupants are armed. When unarmed, the soldiers have to accost the occupants, Espino said.

In case of an imminent threat, Espino said barricades will be set up at the gates.

But there is no immediate threat at the moment, he said.

Espino said he ordered the drill to check the guards’ preparedness and avoid a repeat of an incident at the 6th Infantry Division headquarters at Camp Awang in Maguindanao province several years back when several terror suspects barged into the camp and shot at soldiers guarding the gate.

“I don’t want [the Awang incident] to happen here. The seat of government is here, and so are the seat of the AFP headquarters and the SND [secretary of national defense],” he said.

The bomb drill was also simulated at Camp Aguinaldo’s Gate 1, also on Boni Serrano, and Gate 3 on EDSA, which is for the exclusive use of official vehicles and private vehicles with decal stickers.

The same car was used but was not rigged with C4, unlike the drill at Gate 6, the entry point for private vehicles without deal stickers and public utility vehicles.

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Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2008-05-19T08:25:11+00:00UTC05bUTCMon, 19 May 2008 08:25:11 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

Posted in Uncategorized

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