Hoax bomb threats disrupt operations of gov’t offices

By Ma. Cristina Arayata and Marita Moaje

February 12, 2024, 6:37 pm Updated on February 12, 2024, 6:41 pm

<p><strong>ON ALERT</strong>. Bureau of Fire Protection officers responding to bomb threats are on standby along Visayas Avenue in Diliman, Quezon City on Monday (Feb. 12, 2024). The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Philippine Information Agency buildings received the threats which turned out to be hoaxes. <em>(PNA photo by Raquel Bonustro)</em></p>

ON ALERT. Bureau of Fire Protection officers responding to bomb threats are on standby along Visayas Avenue in Diliman, Quezon City on Monday (Feb. 12, 2024). The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Philippine Information Agency buildings received the threats which turned out to be hoaxes. (PNA photo by Raquel Bonustro)

MANILA – Several government offices reported receiving bomb threats on Monday.

Among these are the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) central offices, located beside each other in Visayas Avenue; National Housing Authority (NHA) along Elliptical Road; Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in Diliman, all in Quezon City; and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Bicutan, Taguig City.

In a statement, the DENR confirmed receiving information about a possible explosion at about 10 a.m.

Upon a thorough inspection by the Philippine National Police, the information was verified to be a hoax.

“The DENR calls for vigilant sobriety and advises everyone to immediately report suspicious activity to local authorities. The department continues to stay alert and committed to the security and well-being of our employees at all times,” it added.

The Quezon City Police District (QCPD) said that at around 8:55 am on Monday, its Station 15 and Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams responded to the bomb threat at the DENR, allegedly issued by a Japanese national.

“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,” it said in a statement.

The QCPD said the threat was issued by a Japanese national who was responsible for a similar threat at the Metro Rail Transit-3 Kamuning Station in Quezon City on September 2023, the statement reads.

DOST building, too

Meanwhile, the Science Heritage Building, located opposite the DOST central office, received a bomb threat through email.

"An email was received at around 3:31 a.m., and the PCIEERD (Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development) read it at 8 a.m. It was (referred to the) PNP (Philippine National Police) for further investigation," DOST Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. told the Philippine News Agency.

Aside from PCIEERD, the Science Heritage Building also houses the Science Education Institute and the National Academy of Science and Technology.

Solidum said police officers inspected the building at around 10 a.m. and the employees were advised to return at noon.

He said the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute and the National Research Council of the Philippines received similar email threats in 2023.

Meanwhile, at about 3:26 p.m., the Bureau of Fire Protection-National Capital Region reported the bomb threat at the NHA while CHED employees rushed out of their buildings at around the same time due to a similar false warning.


Meanwhile, PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said investigations were ongoing.

“It’s very unfortunate that in some instances we have to suspend classes because of this kind of threat. I just hope that those persons responsible for this should know the consequences and they are causing so much trouble. We have been tracing and we try to coordinate with other countries because it is not only happening here in the country. It is also happening in the different agencies of the government and even outside our country,” Acorda said in a press briefing at the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.

The Police Regional Office 3 (Central Luzon), meanwhile, denied reports of bomb threats in the region.

“While we have not yet received any official reports on these incidents, I have instructed all chiefs of police across the region to undertake an investigation and find out the truth behind these incidents,” PRO-3 chief Brig. Gen. Jose Hidalgo Jr. said in a statement.

Classes in public and private schools, as well as work in the Schools Division Office of Bataan’s capital town Balanga, were suspended earlier on Monday after it received the bomb threat via e-mail.

The Olongapo City government also followed suit after one of its offices received the same e-mail.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has also directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to undertake a thorough probe into the incident.

“There should be no place for pranks or spreading fear among our people. 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,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said in a statement.

The unknown e-mail sender identified himself as Takahiro Karasawa, supposedly a Japanese lawyer from a certain “Steadiness Law Office,” and a highly knowledgeable bombmaker.

In the e-mail, Karasawa said the bombs would rock major Philippine government agencies on Monday around 3:34 p.m.

The DOJ said the name has been associated with previous bomb threats across different countries.

In September last year, the same individual issued a bomb threat targeting the MRT-3 system.

This alarming pattern emphasizes the need for immediate and decisive action, the DOJ said.

The NBI also said threats of this nature are taken extremely seriously and will be dealt with accordingly in full compliance with the law.

“We urge the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities or information related to this case to the authorities. The NBI is committed to conducting a thorough and impartial investigation, leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of justice. We will keep the public informed of any significant developments in this case,” NBI director Medardo de Lemos said in a statement. 

In Negros Oriental, the SSS office in Dumaguete City suspended its operations Monday afternoon after its main office in Metro Manila received a bomb threat through email.

“We are just instituting measures for everyone’s safety as instructed by our main office, sending all employees across the country on a work-from-home arrangement," Elisa Llaban, SSS-Dumaguete branch manager, said.

Lt. Stephen Polinar, spokesperson of the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office (NOPPO), said the city police immediately deployed personnel to inspect the local SSS office premises and eventually declared it safe.

Llaban said they hope to resume normal operations by Tuesday. (With reports from Lloyd Caliwan, Benjamin Pulta and Mary Judaline Partlow/PNA)