Military spies hold conference in undisclosed location in Davao City
DAVAO CITY – The country’s military spies on Saturday held their first quarter command conference for the year here, during which they analyzed various threats, mainly from Islamic State-affiliated groups and the New People’s Army (NPA).
Sources told the Inquirer that during the command conference, which was held in an undisclosed location, officials of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), also discussed ways on how to further strengthen intelligence gathering to thwart possible moves by IS-affiliated groups and the NPA to “sow terror.”
Last year, the ISAFP took some blame because of “lapses” in intelligence gathering that led to the siege of Marawi City, which started on May 23, 2017.
The siege was led by the Maute siblings and Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.
On Sept. 22 last year, terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna said the military and the police failed to detect the buildup of forces by the Maute and Abu Sayyaf in Marawi.
“The Philippines failed to detect, to read, the indicators, the signs, and the clues that led to Marawi. We have to acknowledge that,” Gunaratna said during the conference on peace and prevention of violent extremism in Southeast Asia held on the side of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meetings in Manila.
President Rodrigo Duterte insisted, however, that there was no failure of intelligence in the Marawi siege.
During the command conference here, which was presided by the ISAFP chief, Brig. Gen. Macairog Alberto, the increasing attacks by NPA rebels were also discussed.
“Basically, the command conference was all about counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency strategies, nothing special,” one of the sources said.
Asked why the command conference was held here, another source it was “simply a change of venue” from the ISAFP headquarters in Manila to Davao.
Alberto used to head the Army’s 1001st Infantry Brigade based in Compostela Valley and was among military officials known to be close to the President.
In fact, the President was supposed to grace the closing ceremonies of the conference, which will be held at the Grand Regal Hotel. /atm
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