MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Embassy in Indonesia said no Filipinos were reported among the casualties in the bomb explosions that rocked an upscale Jakarta business district early Friday.
The blasts at the neighboring Ritz-Carlton and Marriott hotels blew out windows and scattered debris and glass rubles across the street, killing nine and wounding at least 50 people.
Ambassador Vidal Querol told GMANews.TV that none of the eight fatalities in the incident were Filipinos. Querol confirmed this after seeing that there were no Filipino-sounding names in the list of the casualties reported to him so far.
There are an estimated 12,000 Filipinos in the Indonesian archipelago. Of the total, 7,000 are working as managers, engineers, finance officers, auditors, teachers and consultants in Jakarta.
Alex Asmasubrata, who was jogging past the hotels in the area, told the Associated Press that he first heard a loud explosion at the Marriott. Five minutes later, a blast followed at the Ritz.
Some of the victims were apparently taking their breakfast at the Erlanga Carlton restaurant at the Ritz when the bomb went off at around 8 a.m. (Manila time), Querol added.
"No one has claimed responsibility over the explosions yet," Querol said.
He said victims were rushed to the nearby Metropolitan Medical Center (MMC) and Madistra Hospital.
A list posted at MMC contained 29 names of people who were wounded in the blasts, an AP report said.
The Marriott hotel was attacked in 2003, killing 12 people.
Philippine officials have been on edge since a powerful bomb planted outside the home of the Philippine envoy in Jakarta seriously injured then Ambassador Leonides Caday on Aug. 1, 2000.
The blast has been largely blamed on the Indonesia-based terror network Jemaah Islamiyah, which was also suspected to have a hand in the series of blasts across Southeast Asia, including the simultaneous explosions that killed several people in Metro Manila on Dec. 30 of that same year.
The Jemaah Islamiyah is believed to have links with militants in the Philippines, notably the Abu Sayyaf and rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
In Manila, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said the Jakarta bombings dictate that the country should not let its guard down as terrorists could strike anytime and anywhere.
Senior Superintendent Leonardo Espina, PNP spokesman, said security forces across the country have already increased vigilance and adopted stricter security measures following the latest wave of bombings in Mindanao early this month.
"Since the bombings in Mindanao, we have placed all the regions, police offices on full alert. The rest of the country are on heightened alert, and stricter security measures have been adopted and thorough vigilance, as we do not want any repeat of what happened in Mindanao elsewhere in the country," he said.
Espina said the military and police also have to continue working hand in hand with barangay officials and in-house security personnel securing vital installations, like hotels, terminals, railways, and others places where people converge.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also refused to speculate on the Indonesia bombings but echoed the PNP’s statement that there was no need for adjustments.
Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., AFP public affairs office chief, said the military establishment has already enhanced security in key areas following the recent bombings in various parts of Mindanao that claimed eight lives and injured nearly a hundred others, including soldiers and policemen.
He cited a number of areas in Mindanao where the military has improved security measures, including Iligan City, Maguindanao and Sulu.
“In other words, we increased all our actions to prevent future bombings. Our basis is the bombings (in Mindanao) lately, not the Jakarta (incident)," he said.
Last July 5, suspected rogue members of the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front detonated an improvised bomb in front of the Cotabato City cathedral, killing six people and wounding about 55 others.
Two days later, a bomb, rigged by Abu Sayyaf terrorists into a motorcycle, went off at Jolo town in Sulu, killing two civilians and wounding 24 others, including three policemen who were out to check on the explosive.
Hours after the Jolo bombing, another bomb, placed inside a car, exploded about a hundred meters away from the Mt. Carmel church in Iligan, injuring at least 13, including an Army captain and two of his men. - Joseph Holandes Ubalde, GMANews.TV with AP