Even as the United States alerted its citizens around the world against terrorist threats as it commemorates the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, the government on Saturday said it saw no need to raise security alert levels to counter any actions that may be launched to mark the infamous event.
The Armed Forces said it was not raising its alert status as it was just “a normal situation” for the troops.
“We find no need to raise the terror alert as we have not received any reports of any threats,” said Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, the AFP public affairs chief.
Burgos said the AFP was intensifying its intelligence collection efforts and continuing the conduct of “sustained security operations,” particularly in the countryside, Burgos said.
“We will further strengthen our linkages with other security forces and law enforcement agencies, particularly the Philippine National Police, in terms of intelligence sharing,” he said.
He said unit commanders have been given the authority and prerogative to raise alert level conditions depending on their assessment of the security situation in their respective localities.
The PNP on Saturday said all police regional offices in Mindanao were placed on full alert on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary.
All field units have been reminded of their alert status, which has not changed since late July, said PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz Jr.
The Zamboanga peninsula, Northern Mindanao, the Davao region, Socsargen, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the PNP’s elite response unit, the Special Action Force, remained on full alert, according to a PNP directive.
The National Capital Region police office, national headquarters and support units, as well as police regional offices in the rest of the country, from the Ilocos and the Cordillera Administrative regions in the north to Eastern Visayas further south, are on heightened alert status.
“All unit commanders are reminded to take all steps necessary, particularly target hardening measures, to secure all PNP camps and offices, vital installations, economic key points and places of convergence of people,” the directive read.
PNP commanders were also given the discretion to upgrade the alert level in their areas “based on the prevailing peace and order situation.”
In Malacañang, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Philippine National Police (PNP) is on normal alert except for certain areas of Mindanao.
“We’ve yet to monitor specific threats from known groups or personalities with links to local or foreign terrorists. But again, the PNP will remain vigilant and watchful of any development that may affect peace and order,” Valte said.
Valte said authorities have taken note of the US advisory to its citizens.
But “while we are not upgrading our security alert for the PNP, we are closely watching and monitoring any developments,” she said.
She noted that the police and military “have long tightened security measures” in response to the 9/11 attacks, “and their standing guard continues”.
“A decade after the terror attacks on New York City and Washington, DC, the world pauses in solemn remembrance of the grievous losses in lives on that day. We, the Filipino people, join the world in commemorating the heroism demonstrated in so many ways on that day,” Valte said on state-run dzRB radio.
“Most of all, this is a day for all nations and people to reaffirm their commitment to peace and stability based on mutual respect and dialog between cultures and religion,” Valte added.
The US late last week issued a travel advisory for its citizens abroad as it observes the anniversary of the terror attacks in New York and Washington, DC.
“While we have not identified any specific threats from al-Qaida affiliates and allies to attack the United States or our interests on the 9/11 anniversary, US citizens should be aware that al-Qaida affiliates and allies have demonstrated the intent and capability to carry out attacks against the United States and our interests around the world,” the US State Department said.
BI on double alert
Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. on Saturday ordered all ports of entry to go on heightened alert.
All immigration officers and intelligence agents assigned in airports and seaports were ordered to be on double alert and be on the lookout for suspected foreign terrorists who might attempt to slip into the country.
David issued the order following the US travel advisory which cited the risk of terror attacks in Mindanao and Metro Manila, particularly in crowded areas such as airports, shopping malls, conference centers and other areas frequented by foreigners.
Profile of int’l arrivals
David’s order said immigration officers and agents should exercise “double vigilance in conducting a profile of all arriving international travelers”.
He said foreigners “deemed as potential threats to national security shall be closely monitored and, if possible, subjected to secondary inspection by the immigration officers on duty.”
David also ordered that arriving foreigners whose purpose in visiting the country “was dubious” be excluded and booked on the first available flight to their port of origin.
Maria Antonette Bucasas-Mangrobang, the bureau’s spokesperson, explained that the Immigration Act authorizes Philippine immigration officers to exercise full discretion in allowing or disallowing a foreigner to enter the country.
She stressed that possession of a Philippine entry visa is not a guarantee for admission into the country.
First posted 12:54 am | Sunday, September 11th, 2011