MANILA: Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II has placed the Philippine National Police (PNP) on full alert status in Southern Mindanao following reports of a possible terrorist threat to Davao City.
The PNP confirmed over the weekend having received information with “high reliability of a possible terrorist threat to the peace and security Region 11, particularly in Davao City.”
“We could not, however, divulge any further details of the reports received so as not to compromise ongoing security operations by both the PNP and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippine) in these areas,” said Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP Public Information Office (PIO) Director.
Roxas flew to Davao City to personally check the security measures set up by the territorial police amid the threat. Sindac said Roxas has alerted all police forces in Mindanao by beefing up security operations against possible infiltration of suspected members of the reported threat groups.
PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima said all six Police Regional Offices in Mindanao remain on constant alert to ensure their operational readiness and capabilities to respond to possible contingencies.
“Security forces in these areas will be initiating preemptive security measures in the form of aggressive foot and mobile patrols, conduct of intensified checkpoints and gun check operations, including rigid inspections in land, sea and air transport terminals, commercial centres, places of convergence and vital installations,” Sindac added.
President Aquino himself called up Mayor Rodrigo Duterte the other night to discuss a potential terrorist threat in the south.
Duterte said the president was particularly concerned about the threat posed by Abdul Basit Usman that he himself made the call instead of just delegating it to his security officials.
Usman, who has links with the Abu Sayyaf, is a bomb-making expert. The intelligence community said Usman poses a big threat to security in the south.
Usman, who has a $1m bounty, is considered by US authorities to be a threat to US and Filipino citizens and interests.
The militant, believed to have orchestrated several bombings, is reportedly training the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters how to make bombs.
Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command spokesman Capt. Alberto Caber said checkpoints have been set up to ensure public safety and to thwart untoward incidents.
“There are checkpoints manned by the Army and manned by the PNP,” Caber said. “If you go to Davao City, one hour before your destination, you will have to pass through five to seven checkpoints,” he added.
Caber said agents in plain clothes have been deployed to public places like airports.
Earlier, Duterte said he had been alerted by Aquino about a potential terrorist threat in the south reportedly coming from a militant bomber initially thought to be dead but who is actually still alive.
A security source who spoke on condition of anonymity said Usman might be planning to bomb key cities in Mindanao including Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and Cotabato.
The Philippine Star