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Bohol holds anti-terror exercises to prepare for tourist influx

By: - Correspondent / @leoudtohanINQ
/ 04:22 PM August 15, 2018

Interagency capability demonstration exercises were held on Wednesday in Panglao Island to strengthen security in Bohol province. Leo Udtohan/Inquirer Visayas

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol – What would happen if terrorists went again to Bohol province, kidnapped hostages and planted a bomb?

An interagency capability demonstration exercise held on Wednesday on Panglao Island tried to answer that question.

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The Bohol provincial government,  Philippine Navy, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection, and other law enforcement agencies held the anti-terror exercises in the seas off Panglao to demonstrate improved capability in responding to terror attacks in the province.

The exercise started with “tourists” enjoying the beach on Panglao Island when a group of terrorists arrived to kidnap them. The military came to rescue the tourists.

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Another scenario involved terrorists aboard a pump boat attacking another pump boat.

In the exercise, the alert boat crew sent a distress signal to a Navy craft patrolling the area even before the terrorists got near the boat.

The Naval Force Central responded, and conducted search and combat operations to rescue the would-be victims and neutralize the bandits.

Another scene involved experts who checked the place for bombs.  To make the exercise realistic, the organizers exploded two bombs.

All the exercises involved Tarsier 117, the province’s emergency response unit.

“There is no substitute for preparedness,” said Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto.

In April 2017, 11 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group went to Bohol to kidnap and conduct terrorist activities, but all were killed.

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The operation to hunt the bandits, however,  resulted in the deaths of three Army soldiers, a police officer, and two civilians. The skirmishes that lasted a month displaced hundreds of families in three towns,

“What happened in Inabanga showcased the preparedness of the Boholanos as it gave a lesson that we must be ready all the time,” Chatto said.

The exercises were part of the preparations for the influx of tourists to the province with the opening of the Bohol Panglao International Airport, said Anthony Damalerio, head of the provincial disaster risk reduction and management office.

“We are assessing our readiness and capability to make everything in order as we are preparing for the influx of tourists to Bohol. We readied our emergency preparedness and response cluster of our province,” Damalerio said.

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TAGS: Anthony Damalerio, anti-terrorism exercises, Bohol, Edgar Chatto, interagency capability demonstration exercises, Tourists
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