The Department of National Defense has pointed to the Abu Sayyaf Group as the perpetrator of the deadly explosion that rocked Davao City on Friday night that left at least 12 people dead and at least 60 others injured.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he has ordered all the commands of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be on high alert "especially in urban centers for possible other terroristic act attempts by this group."
Lorenzana indicated that the bandits launched the attack to get back in retaliation for the intensified operations ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte that the Armed Forces of the Philippines launched against the Abu Sayyaff over past week.
"While nobody has come up to own the act we can only assume that this was perpetrated by the terrorist group Abu Sayaff that has suffered heavy casualties in Jolo in the past weeks," Lorenzana said.
"We have predicted this and has warned our troops accordingly but the enemy is also adept at using the democratic space granted by our constitution to move around freely and unimpeded to sow terror," he added.
Duterte had been mayor of Davao for most of the past two decades, before winning national elections in a landslide this year and being sworn in as president on June 30.
Duterte became well known for bringing relative peace and order to Davao with hardline security policies, while also brokering local deals with Muslim and Communist rebels.
However, in 2003, a bomb attack blamed on Muslim rebels at Davao airport killed more than 20 people.
As president, Duterte quickly launched peace talks with the Communists, who last week agreed to an indefinite ceasefire.
Duterte has also in recent weeks pursued peace talks with the two main Muslim rebel groups. Its leaders have said they want to broker a lasting peace.
However, Duterte also ordered a military offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, a small but extremely dangerous group of militants that has declared allegiance to Islamic State and vowed to continue fighting.
Fifteen soldiers died on Monday in clashes with the Abu Sayyaf on Jolo island, one of the Abu Sayyaf's main strongholds about 900 kilometers from Davao.
Lorenzana said the Eastern Command in Davao City had been directed to assist the Philippine National Police in maintaining peace and order in the city and in the apprehension of the perpetrators.
Army investigators have recovered a suspected shrapnel at the site of the blast.
"They will also aid in gathering intelligence information and in conducting investigations to get to the bottom of this unfortunate incident," Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana asked the public "to remain calm but alert and vigilant, and cooperate with our security forces." -NB, GMA News