Twelve bombs were found hidden inside a bathroom in a ferry in the central Philippines, raising fears of another bombing campaign by suspected Islamic militants, the coast guard said Sunday.
The improvised explosive devices, made of bottles with gunpowder, blasting caps, shrapnel and wiring, were found hidden in a sack in the bathroom of the MV Blue Water Princess on Saturday just as it was about to depart the city of Lucena for the central island of Masbate.
It was not clear if the bombs were intended to go off inside the ferry or were to be used elsewhere, said Balilo who also declined to identify any suspects.
He said it was the coast guard's second discovery of large amounts of explosive material in just two weeks. Last week, a supply of ammonium nitrate and blasting caps was found in a port in the central city of Mandaue.
The discovery of the bombs also came just days before President Gloria Arroyo is scheduled to make her annual state of the nation address to Congress on Monday, noted Balilo.
The government had warned there may be attempts to disrupt the speech and has deployed more security forces as a precaution.
The Philippines put its troops and police on their highest security alert Sunday ahead of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's annual state of the nation address, which is expected to be dogged by widespread protests.
Arroyo, who has survived four coup attempts and four impeachment bids, has been accused by opposition politicians of maneuvering to extend her term, which ends next year. Her aides have denied the claim, saying her speech Monday will focus on her efforts to protect the country's economy from the global financial meltdown.
Prominent leftist group Bayan said it expected up to 15,000 protesters near Congress.
Police will deploy unarmed anti-riot squads and close several streets near where anti-government protests were expected in downtown Manila.
AFP, Bombs found aboard Philippine ferry, 26 July 2009, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5glGKHhmoVnblnl5Zc0qYR...
Bloomberg, Philippine Democracy in Spotlight for Arroyo ‘Farewell’ Speech, 27 July 2009, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aSt27CckQws8
The Jakarta Post, Philippine coast guard finds explosives on ferry, 27 July 2009, http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/07/26/philippine-coast-guard-fin...
The Jakarta Post, Philippine troops on full alert for Arroyo speech, 27 July 2009, http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/07/26/philippine-troops-full-ale...
Xinhua News, Philippines foils ferry bombing ahead of president's national address , 26 July 2009, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-07/26/content_11774874.htm