AS FAR AS Western Visayas is concerned, the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) has not monitored any threat from terrorist groups.
But as of 10 a.m. of May 24, 2017, all police units were placed on full alert status after President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao because of incursions by suspected Maute group members in Marawi City.
Superintendent Gilbert Gorero, PRO-6 spokesman, said the declaration would mean that all leaves are cancelled.
Further, “all those who are on leave are recalled immediately, except those who went in sick leave,” he added.
Provincial and city police directors were also told to strengthen their security measures.
“They must do target hardening on key economic points,” Gorero said.
Field commanders were also instructed to coordinate with Muslim communities and barangay officials in their area of responsibility so they could be warned of “suspicious visitors” in their localities.
Gorero also assured that policemen are on their toes to guard entry and exit points all over the region such as airports, seaports, transports terminals, and even coastlines.
Checkpoints will also be conducted at any given time, he added.
The declaration of full alert status came in the heels of perceived lawlessness in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur after armed men occupied the streets.
The suspects, believed to be members of the Maute Group, torched houses and establishments.
Maute Group, also known as Islamic State of Lanao, has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
In a press conference afternoon of May 24 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, President Duterte said he plans to expand the martial law declaration to Visayas if terror attacks continue.
“Martial law, including suspension of writ of habeas corpus, might be expanded to Visayas,” he said during a press briefing upon his arrival from Russia yesterday afternoon.
The president who reported that the Islamic State (ISIS) has arrived in the Philippines and that the government must put an end to these atrocities.
“If I think that the ISIS has already taken foothold also in Luzon, and terrorism is not really far behind, I might declare martial law throughout the country to protect the people,” he added.
Duterte also said he will step down if he is deemed incapable of keeping order in the country.
Gorero believed that they have the support of the Muslim community in Region 6.
On March 2017, representatives from Muslim communities in Western Visayas signed a covenant signifying that they are against any form of terrorism.
But aside from village officials and the Muslim communities, Gorero said they are counting on the public to report any information about a possible presence of armed persons or suspicious individuals in their area.
The Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division also said that Western Visayas is safe from terror threats.
Brigadier General Jon Aying, 3ID commander, said terrorists from Mindanao would find it hard to penetrate Catholic-dominated areas like Western Visayas.
Unlike in Mindanao, it’s difficult for them to scout for support from the civilian sector.
Just like the PNP, Aying said the AFP also did not monitor any terrorist planning to evade Region 6.
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