By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The Bacolod City government, with the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) and the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO), completed bomb simulation exercise (SIMEX) scenarios at the Bacolod City Government Center (BCGC) and the old Bacolod City Hall yesterday.
Around 9:30 a.m., a small controlled explosive was detonated at the Fountain of Justice, located in front of old City Hall. Workers in the building were evacuated, while CDRRMO personnel posed as casualties.
BCPO also set up a perimeter along Araneta Street, while explosive experts combed the area for a possible second device.
Authorities declared an all-clear around 30 minutes following the initial blast.
This was followed by Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) sealing off the blast area to search for evidence.
The second scenario occurred at 11:00 a.m. where an unaccompanied bag was left in a male comfort room at the BCGC.
Employees were evacuated from the building within eight minutes, with responding police officers confirming the bag contained several explosives.
The bag was subsequently removed from the building and the explosives were detonated in an open area.
CDRRMO cluster head Joemarie Vargas reported some response time delays with the first exercise, which he said were addressed in the second scenario.
He also advised the public to contact police if they discover a bomb and, when evacuating, to refrain from using mobile phones as the signal may set off the bomb.
Vargas added, announcing the presence of a bomb should be left to proper authorities.
Meanwhile, Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia thanked those who participated in the exercise.
“I hope this exercise today will prepare us more,” he said. “An ounce of prevention is worth the pound of cure.”/WDJ