Sunday, November 22, 2015

Palace urges Filipinos to do part in thwarting terrorism

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 23): Palace urges Filipinos to do part in thwarting terrorism

MalacaƱang called on Filipinos yesterday to cooperate with authorities and to remain vigilant in the face of numerous terrorist-related incidence and threats in various parts of the world.

“Let’s cooperate and let’s be vigilant,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in an interview over state-owned radio DZRB Sunday. “You know, terrorism knows no borders now, and therefore we need to cooperate with whatever advisories the government would put out, especially the important component.”

Last Friday, Islamist militants killed 19 people, including six Russians, in an attack on a luxury hotel in Mali. Jihadist groups Al Mourabitoun and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the attack, which ended when Malian commandos stormed the building and rescued 170 people, many of them foreigners.

The assault came a week after militants killed 130 people in gun and bomb attacks in Paris claimed by Islamic State (IS), and three weeks after a Russian airliner was downed over Egypt by a bomb, killing all 224 people aboard.

In the same radio interview, Lacierda pointed out the importance of being vigilant in the face of terrorist threats.

“There are packages which are not ours or which are very suspicious, just report it to the proper authorities,” he said. “In whatever suspicious items that may be found…there are media advisories and warnings.”

On the other hand, Lacierda said people should be wary of areas that are preferred targets of terrorists, especially in places where the public mill, such as malls.

“If we’re not supposed to be in that area, then don’t go to those areas,” he said. “Our law enforcement authorities have issued warnings and reminders about these circumstances. So it is really important for us to heed these warnings.”

He said people should also be watchful of their belongings and if there any suspicious items to report it to the proper authorities.

“We would ask everyone to cooperate and to be vigilant. That is our contribution to our fight against terrorism,” said Lacierda. “There will always be people who will not respond to the reminders and it’s our responsibility to do something about it. But, for the most part, we request our people to really cooperate and listen to the reminders and to be vigilant.”

Lacierda stressed that one of the important components in the fight against terrorism is the intelligence sharing among countries.


Yesterday, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) denied a Sabah police report about a November 15 meeting involving the MNLF, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), and the Islamic State (IS) on Sulu island.

“That’s a lie, a figment of their imagination,” MNLF legal counsel Randolph Parcasio told the Manila Bulletin.

When the MNLF and Abu Sayyaf see each other, they shoot at each other,” he added.

At times this “intelligence reports are not intelligent at all,” he said.

Ayyobbie Estino Jairi, a senior MNLF leader, echoed the same reaction in a separate interview.

He said the MNLF and the Abu Sayyaf have no alliance.

“The MNLF is fighting for self-determination and the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA); the Abu Sayyaf is into kidnapping and terrorism,” said Jairi.

Another senior MNLF leader, who goes by the name Hamza Sulaiman, a high-ranking leader of the MNLF-Sema group, said the Sabah police got false information.
“There was no such meeting. The MNLF and the Abu Sayyaf are fighting each other,” he said.

As quoted in the news reports, the Sabah police said in its November 16 circular about its possession of details of a meeting on November 15 “between Abu Sayyaf, Isis (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).”

“The circular reportedly said several resolutions were made during the meeting in Sulu, including the recruitment of new members and deploying Abu Sayyaf and Isis elements to Sabah and Kuala Lumpur,” the news portal said.

“It said eight Abu Sayyaf and ISIS suicide bombers were in Sabah, while another 10 were in Kuala Lumpur,” it added.

The Sabah police circular said the “suicide bombers underwent military training in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as prepared to receive orders from their leaders to launch attacks/bombings.”


Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Hernando Iriberri directed newly-installed Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, Major General Mayoralgo Dela Cruz to intensify operations against the ASG.

Colonel Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesman, said the Chief of Staff flew to Mindanao to personally convey the instructions of President Aquino and to install the new commanders of the Westmincom and Eastmincom command.

Dela Cruz took over the helm of the Zamboanga-based Westmincom from Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero who will retire Tuesday, Nov. 24, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56.

On Saturday, President Aquino ordered the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) to further intensify operations against the Al Qaeda-linked bandit group and all threat elements in the country.

The president issued his directive while in Kuala Lumpur, making his final appearance at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.


In Kuala Lumpur, several Asia Pacific leaders have agreed to scale up security cooperation in countering terrorism in the wake of recent attacks across the globe.

A declaration on the Global Movement of Moderates as well as statement on fighting “violent extremism” and other security issues were adopted during the 10th East Asia summit in Malaysia.

The East Asia Summit brought the leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries and its eight dialogue partners, including the United States, Russia and Japan for discussions on security issues, such as terrorism and territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

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