PNP ready for terrorist attacks
The Philippine National Police is considering as “serious” reports that Islamic extremist groups are threatening to disrupt the annual “traslacion” or the procession of the Black Nazarene statue in Manila on Monday.
In a press briefing at Camp Crame, PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said there were reports that Mindanao-based Islamic groups such as the Maute group and Ansar al-Khilafa, whose leader was killed during a police operation, were planning retaliatory attacks in Manila.
“These threats, we’re already looking into them. We’re taking action, but we can’t really divulge them to the public otherwise they will be ineffective if everybody knows about it,” Dela Rosa added.
Asked if members of terrorist groups such as the Maute group were actually in Manila, Dela Rosa said this was still being verified.
The PNP chief met with top police officials for the traditional “New Year’s call” meeting at the camp.
Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno also met with officials from PNP, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Fire Protection and other agencies under him.
Sueno assured the public that the PNP and other agencies were ready to make sure the procession and other feast-related activities are safe and secured.
He said the government would not allow anyone to sow chaos during the celebration.
“We will not let anyone disrupt the sanctity of the celebration. Besides, this annual festivity is being looked forward to not only by the devotees of the Poong Nazareno, but also of the international community who are awed by the degree of devotion Filipinos pour for the Black Nazarene,” Sueno said.
It was Sueno who earlier said there were reports of threats to disrupt the procession following the recent killing of AKP leader Mohammded Jaafar Maguid in Sarangani province.
Dela Rosa said he has directed the National Capital Region Police Office to deploy more personnel to Manila on Monday to keep the procession safe. He said additional forces would also be coming from the Central Luzon and Calabarzon regional police offices.
The PNP chief earlier ordered the suspension of all permits to carry firearms in Manila for 48 hours, from 8 a.m. Sunday to 8 a.m. Tuesday as an “added security measure” for the feast of the Black Nazarene.
Organizers expect a lot of people to flock to Manila on Monday for the traslacion that would start at Rizal Park and end at Quiapo church.
The entire country remained under a “Threat Level 3” alert, meaning a terror attack could take place any time and any where. The alert was imposed by the Anti-Terrorism Council following the Davao City night market bombing last September.
Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has activated its National Response Cluster (NRC) and National Incident Management Team (NIMT) to provide support to the preparations for the observance of the Black Nazarene feast.
“A national standby-alert reserve force for consequence management operations had been organized to attend to the various natural and human-induced hazards such as mass casualty incidents that may occur during the observance from 8-10 January 2017,” NDRRMC executive director Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad said in a statement.
The standby-alert force is composed of various NDRRMC member-agencies such as the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and its Metro Manila office; PNP, BFP, the military, the interior, social welfare, health and public works departments, and the Philippine Red Cross.
Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines warned drone operators who would violate the “no-fly” zone in Monday’s traslacion that they face up to P500,000 in fines.
Caap deputy director general for operations Manuel Tamayo said the ban on drones or unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs) would be strictly implemented on Monday in Manila particularly on areas along the procession route of the Black Nazarene. —JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.