Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Attacks scare ‘hoax' but vigilance urged

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jun 21): Attacks scare ‘hoax' but vigilance urged

Army and police officials yesterday said an alleged warning of attacks from the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency on key cities nationwide by Islamist terrorists on June 30 is a hoax, but said they are not letting their guard down and are continuing to strengthen security measures.

The alleged NICA warning circulating on social media networks and through text messages, also alleges that some of the terrorists were monitored in Negros and Guimaras.

Maj. Gen. Jon Aying, 3 rd Infantry Division commander, and Senior Supt. Rodolfo Castil, Negros Occidental OIC police director, both denied receiving such intelligence report.

It's a hoax, but we are not letting our guard down, Aying said, as he reiterated the appeal for civilians to immediately report any unusual activity or unfamiliar persons in their communities.

“Whether it is a hoax or a fact we just have to be vigilant. Everyone should do their share to help secure our communities,” he said.

“Definitely there is no reason to panic, but there is always a reason to be careful, vigilant, and to cooperate with each other, especially in the sharing of information,” Aying added.

The Army and police are also on alert against theNew People's Army after they raided a police station in Maasin town in Iloilo province on Sunday,and took high-powered firearms.

B arangay tanod Romeo Cabalong was also wounded when government soldiers clashed with suspected NPA rebels in Barangay Lampaya in Leon town, Iloilo, yesterday.

Aying said the NPA rebels who staged the raid Sunday took advantage of the vacuum as the Army was distracted by the movement of 82nd IB soldiers to Marawi, and the PNP is preparing to send forces if needed, to Mindanao.

Government troops have been reminded not to let their guard down, although there is no cause for alarm as the NPA is a declining force, he added.

Chief Supt Edmund Gonzales, Negros Island police director, has been inspecting the security preparedness of police stations in the island in the wake of the rebel raid in Iloilo.

Castil said the police have been on alert and a reiteration of the need not to let their guard down was just being made.

They have not received any confirmation from the police intelligence community of the alleged NICA warning on June 30 attacks but remain prepared, Castil said.

Aying said ahoax warning was also circulated earlier of June 12 attacks that did not happen, and now it has been moved to June 30.

The alleged NICA document being circulated on social media since Monday, requests for validation and monitoring of information that a “joint ISIS Maute, BIFF terror group will launch major attacks over key cities nationwide on June 30.”

It also said petroleum lorry trucks and LPG delivery trucks will be hijacked and used as vehicle bombs with populated areas such as shopping malls and churches as their targets.

It said foreign terrorists from the ISIS group will carry out suicide attacks and that 20 Maute special units are already in place and mosques will not be spared.

Aying said they have no confirmation of such document, but remain vigilant as they strengthen their intelligence networks.

“It's more of a hoax, but, on the other hand, we should not underestimate possibilities,” he added.

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday convened Task Force Buglas at his office at the Capitol in Bacolod for an organizational meeting.

Buglas, a task force on peace and security, was created by the governor amid the rising threat posed by Islamic extremism.

The governor reminded those present to stay vigilant and not to let their guard down.

Present at the meeting were officials of the Army, Coast Guard, Navy,other line agencies and representatives of civil society. Only the Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office failed to send a representatives, Ma. LinaSanogal, Task Force Buglas executive director, said.

Ayingsaid the meeting discussed strengthening of communication lines between the various security forces, line agencies and communities to secure Negros from terror threats.

At the Task Force Buglas organizational meeting various suggestions were made that will be included in an amended version of the order of the governor on its creation, Sanogal said.

The task force will hold a one-day planning workshop to flesh out the functions of its various task groups next week, and an anti-terror summit is being eyed for July, Sanogal added.

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