Thursday, June 29, 2017

AFP: Safe June 30 amid terror threats in NegOr

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): AFP: Safe June 30 amid terror threats in NegOr

Officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) here on Thursday afternoon have reassured the public that June 30 is still a safe and normal day amid unverified intelligence reports of threats of extremist terror groups launching attacks.

Capt. Jorge Ibarra of the Philippine Navy, and who heads the AFP’s Task Force Deter on maritime safety and security here, reiterated that strict security measures are in place especially in vulnerable target areas of extremist terror groups like the Maute, Abu Sayyaf and the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters).

For his part, Lt. Col. Roderick Garcia, battalion commander of the Army’s 79th IB here, also reassured that his troops are conducting preventive security measures in vital installations, entry and exit points like sea ports and the airport, vulnerable communities and highly-populated areas with minimal presence of law enforcement authorities, as well as tourist destinations.

June 30 is TGIF day, referring to the acronym’s meaning “Thank God It’s Friday” and people should feel safe and secure, going out to enjoy the weekend, Garcia pointed out.

The reassurances come in the midst of unconfirmed reports since last week that violent extremist groups like the Maute Group will carry out attacks in certain locations in the country.

The purported intelligence report, which government security forces said is unvalidated, mentioned about foreign terrorist groups carrying out simultaneous suicide attacks nationwide during the prayer “jumaah”.

The report further said terrorists will hijack petroleum tank trucks to be used in the suicide attacks, a report which government security forces are investigating but not confirming.

Navy Capt. Ibarra mentioned of “choke points” such as that between Apo Island in Negros Oriental and Siquijor, and Siquijor and Bohol, as well as TaƱon Strait between Cebu and Negros Islands, as being tightly sealed off by government maritime vessels.

In cooperation with the Coast Guard, the Navy continues with its round-the-clock maritime and coast patrols in these areas, said Capt. Ibarra.

On land, Lt. Col. Garcia says Army vehicles, such as V-150 tanks and military trucks with troops, are on constant patrols in areas that are most likely vulnerable to potential terror attacks.

But Lt. Col. Garcia says they need the participation and cooperation of the communities as force responders, especially in the monitoring, gathering and reporting of information of suspicious activities and persons to the proper authorities.

The Army and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are also conducting surgical checkpoints every day to ensure that no terrorist can find his way to Negros Oriental, he added.

Meanwhile, Army troops continue with counter-insurgency operations in the hinterlands where the Communist New People’s Army (NPA) are holed out.

Lt. Col. Garcia said they are not taking any chances as the NPA can also take advantage of the supposed June 30 nationwide attacks by terrorists by launching their own offensives.

Both the Army and the Navy officials assured that the AFP, the PNP and other security providers are ready to take on extremist groups anytime and any day.

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