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Deadly Davao blast possible act of ‘narco-terrorism’ —PNP chief

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is not discounting the possibility that the deadly blast in Davao City market Friday night was related to the government's relentless campaign against drugs, or to its efforts against terrorism in Sulu.

“We can't [help] but entertain the thought na baka mamaya part of narco-terrorism na rin ito. Baka gusto nila mag-ease up yung ating efforts sa against drugs, ma-shift yung ating attention,” PNP chief Director General Ronald del Rosa said at a press conference in Camp Crame on Saturday morning.

He said that the PNP is also looking at “narco-terrorism” as the motive for the blast, which could be aimed at hampering the administration’s anti-drugs campaign.

Baka iniisip nila na because of the blast hindi na natin papansinin masyado yung problema sa drugs…. But still, [there is] no let up sa ating anti-drug [campaign],” Dela Rosa stressed.

While a police intelligence group is still investigating the incident, he said there is a high-probability that the deadly blast was a terrorist attack.

Dela Rosa did not directly attribute the incident to a particular terrorist group, but said that the military, upon President Rodrigo Duterte orders, has intensified its offensive in Sulu against the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

“We have been bringing the war to them [ASG].  Andun po ang ating mga tropa, marami nang mga sundalo doon. Kaya, ang ginawa nila ay para ma-divert ang attention [at] ma-ease up ang tension sa Sulu,” he said, adding that the attack has put the police on the defensive.

“Instead na mag-concentrate tayo ng effort doon sa area nila, magiging defensive tayo ngayon sa ating mga siyudad at magbabantay tayo...," he added.

Not taken at face value

"Even though may umamin na nga from their [ASG] members sa Zamboanga, we do not take that as face value. Kino-confirm parin natin ang claim nila. We have many ways of validating it,” Dela Rosa said.

On Saturday morning, the ASG claimed responsibility for the Davao City explosion that left over a dozen people dead and over 60 others injured.

ASG spokesperson Abu Rami said the attack was a "call for unity” to all their members in the country amid the all-out-war of the Armed Force of the Philippines against their group.

On the other hand, Dela Rosa said he will be heading for Davao City Saturday afternoon to personally oversee the situation and to report to President Duterte. — LBG, GMA News