Davao City lockdown planned for antiterror drills
DAVAO CITY — Authorities were planning to simulate their response to a terror attack that would require a lockdown of the city in what was described as a massive drill to be replicated in other urban areas nationwide.
Director Camilo Pancratius Cascolan, head of the Philippine National Police Directorate for Operations, said the antiterror drill, involving hundreds of soldiers and policemen, would take place by the second week of February.
No one would be allowed to leave or enter the city during the lockdown.
It would be the first in a series of antiterror and anticrime drills planned nationwide to test government capability to respond to threats and emergencies, Cascolan said.
This city was picked as pilot area for the exercises.
Cascolan said hundreds of soldiers, including Marines, and policemen would be tapped to take part in the simultaneous exercises code named Task Group Southern Storm.
He said contingents from the Office of Civil Defense and the Bureau of Fire Protection would also be participating.
Cascolan said he was set to meet with local officials and legislators, led by Mayor Sara Duterte, prior to the conduct of the activity to discuss with them the temporary lockdown.
“This is part of our operational strategies,” Cascolan said. “The least we can get out of this is that everybody should know what to do,” he said. “Everybody will take responsibility,” he added.
Cascolan said the simultaneous exercises on terrorism and criminality would be carried out by police and other law enforcement units in downtown Davao and in vital facilities, like the Davao International Airport.
Maritime exercises would also be conducted off the coast of Davao, he said.
Soldiers, according to Cascolan, would conduct counterinsurgency operations simultaneous with the drills.
Clashes between soldiers and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels had taken place in the hinterlands of the city. The latest was on Tuesday when one junior officer was killed and two other soldiers were wounded.
The city health office and the city government’s civilian public safety and security command center would also take part in the drills, Cascolan said.
“We will be inviting lots of VIPs (very important persons) from other parts of Mindanao,” Cascolan said. “This will be role-playing,” he added. The drills would be held nationwide.
A number of terror attacks struck the city during President Duterte’s tenure as mayor.
On Dec. 28, 1993, seven people were killed while 151 others were wounded when Abu Sayyaf members set off three improvised explosive devices inside the San Pedro Cathedral. A suspect was arrested in Sulu two years after.
On March 4, 2003, 22 people were killed and more than 150 others were injured when a bomb ripped through a waiting shed outside the old Davao International Airport. Authorities had blamed the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) for the attack.
On April 2, 2003, 16 people were killed while 45 others were wounded when a bomb exploded at the Sasa Wharf. The JI was also tagged in the Sasa bombing.
On Feb. 14, 2015, a 12-year-old vendor was killed when a bomb exploded at the Davao City Overland Terminal in Ecoland in the village of Matina.
On Sept. 17, 2013, several moviegoers were injured when explosions took place inside theaters in two malls in the city. Then Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said a “new Muslim group” was behind the theater bombings but did not say what the group’s name was.
On Sept. 2, 2016, 15 people were killed and 70 others were wounded when a bombed ripped through the Roxas Night Market. Abu Sayyaf owned up to the bombing, but investigation revealed it was the work of Maute group. —Frinston Lim
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