Amid fears of a possible terror attack in the Philippines, Malacañang on Thursday urged the public to report “suspicious” acts in public places.
Presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque made the appeal as he assured Filipinos that the government has stepped up its security measures since the 2017 Marawi siege.
“Please inform the authorities if you notice suspicious personalities or objects, especially in public places,” he said in a televised briefing.
The Palace official then noted that the country has been on a “heightened alert” against security threats since the 2017 clash between the Philippine military and the IS-inspired Maute group in Marawi, Lanao del Sur which stretched on for months.
“We are already under a heightened alert since the incident in Marawi. We are thankful for the information, but we will only beef up our preparedness to face possible terror attacks,” Roque said.
“Our police and military are ready and we also ask for the cooperation of the public,” he added.
In the same briefing, police chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the 200,000-strong police force is taking the threat seriously as it continues its monitoring efforts.
“In our police force, we have not received such threats. But just the same, we are not disregarding this information and will continue to conduct monitoring,” Eleazar said.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines, meanwhile, said the current threat level in the country remains at the “moderate” level.
The Japanese embassy in Manila earlier said that Tokyo received information about possible terrorist attacks such as suicide bombings in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, meanwhile, said the government is asking Japan for further details of the terror plot it claimed to have monitored.
Lorenzana said the government has yet to receive feedback from the defense attache at the Japan Embassy.
“We should know the details of the report so that we can assess the veracity, and we can prepare,” the defense chief added.
The Bureau of Immigration is also on alert, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said, for the possible entry of terror suspects in any of the country’s ports.
with Anthony Ching and John Roson