The country’s security forces are not downplaying the terror warning aired this week by the Japanese government with Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar on Wednesday ensuring the reports on possible attacks are being validated.
After an initial assurance from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) also said yesterday that it is treating the advice as a serious matter.
Various security dry runs were also held yesterday in response to Japan’s warning to its citizens to stay away from facilities owned by western countries, religious services and crowded places.
Japan named the Philippines as a likely target, along with Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia — countries where terror cells with links to international religious extremist groups thrive.
In an interview with the Daily Tribune’s morning show Gising Na! Eleazar said he has tasked the PNP Directorate for Intelligence to validate the information.
“I gave a directive to the directorate for intelligence to validate the information (from Japan) and we will also coordinate with our Japanese counterpart regarding that matter. But just the same, even without that information, our intelligence monitoring is ongoing and we are ready for any possible threat,” Eleazar said.
He added that the PNP has yet to receive formal confirmation on the intelligence report by the Japan Foreign Ministry.
Government security forces, he said, will coordinate with Japanese counterparts to confirm the report.
The PNP is also sharing information with the AFP to ensure their readiness against any possible attack, he said.
Newly-installed PCG Commandant Vice Admiral Leopoldo Laroya, meanwhile, raised no alarm as his group coordinates with the military and law enforcement units.
Laroya said District Commanders across the country have intensified border protection measures and 24/7 seaborne patrol operations. He added that they strictly monitor vital sea lanes, as well as maritime transportation installations and infrastructures.
“As the third armed service of the country, the PCG never takes a break in upholding maritime security and in ensuring the safety of fishermen and other mariners venturing into our maritime jurisdiction,” Laroya stated.
He stressed that the PCG “will not put their guards down and will continue to be vigilant in conducting precautionary measures for public safety”.
“Our intelligence officers and deployed personnel are always coordinating with the National Intelligence Committee, Anti-Terrorism Council, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police to assist in the implementation of a whole-of-nation approach in dealing with national security and public safety issues,” he emphasized.
In a related development, the National Bureau of Investigation-Counter Terrorism Division (NBI-CTD) yesterday cornered an Abu Sayyaf member in Culiat, Quezon City.
NBI Officer-In-Charge Director Eric B. Distor identified the arrested subject as Albazir Abdulla y Hamsi, a.k.a Abu Saif, who is wanted for kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
with Alvin Murcia, Raffy Ayeng
and Bella Cariaso