THE TRANSPORTATION department has ordered the Philippine Coast Guard to help secure the country’s rail facilities after twin blasts in Jolo in Southern Philippines killed 14 people and wounded at least 75 others.

The Coast Guard will deploy 40 K9 units at stations and facilities of the Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2, Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 and Philippine National Railways to augment security forces,Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a statement on Monday.

“It is vital that we protect passengers from the threat of terrorism, even as we try to maintain public transportation operations amid the pandemic,” he said. “This is where the expertise and training of the PCG K9 units will prove most effective.”

The K9 units will consist of K9 handlers, working dogs, veterinarians and bomb specialists.

“Dogs to be deployed with the PCG K9 units are highly trained to detect explosives,” the agency said.

“The PCG K9 teams are ready to assist the security forces of these rail lines to deter and/or neutralize threats through higher visibility, enhanced response time, and to make the commuter riding experience more secure,” Coast Guard Commandant Admiral George V. Ursabia, Jr. said in the same statement.

Philippine police have ordered the deployment of a Special Action Force battalion to help local security forces hunt down the bombers, believed to be linked to the Islamic State. — Arjay L. Balinbin