MORE soldiers will be assigned in checkpoints after a task force that will guard against and go after terrorists was formed at the initiative of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID).
Similar to Davao City’s Task Force Davao, “Task Force Oro” will be tasked with counter terrorism and will help ensure that terrorists will not be able to wreak havoc in Cagayan de Oro City.
Captain Rey Escalera, Task Force Oro operations officer, said the task force is primarily composed of elements from the 4ID’s 403rd “Peacemaker” Brigade with Colonel Royland Orquia as the task force commander.
Orquia is the present deputy commander of the 403rd Brigade based in Camp Osito Bahian, Impalambong, Malaybalay City. .
"It was created to give focus and special attention to the situation here in the city. And it was made through the 403rd Brigade because one of the brigade's area of responsibility is Cagayan de Oro," Escalera said.
A battalion-size task force, Escalera said the task force is composed of almost all of the units and divisions of the Philippine Army, like the Explosive and Ordinance Division (EOD), the Army's K9 company, among others.
"The task force is anti-terrorism, and counter terrorism. The 'anti' part, means that it is part of our job to prevent the terrorists from coming in here, we will conduct information drive for the public and the likes. The 'counter' part, means that terrorists are already here, so we will stop whatever it is they are planning to do, all of these, we will do," he added.
"Of course, intelligence gathering is part of our functions but that work is mainly under the Martial Law-Special Action Group (ML-SAG). If they have information about something, our job is to be there in the area and respond to a possible distress call," Escalera said.
With the new task force, Escalera said the city’s security will be strengthened, and that Army visibility will also double especially in the areas where threat is present.
The task force Friday, June 23, visited City Mayor Oscar Moreno, and vowed to assist the police in manning the checkpoints.
Newly-installed Police Regional Office (PRO)-Northern Mindanao police director Chief Superintendent Timoteo Pacleb noted minor lapses that have to be corrected and improved in the checkpoints positioned at the borders of Cagayan de Oro City to ensure retreating terrorists and their sympathizers could not slip into the city.
Pacleb made the rounds, inspecting checkpoints on Friday, a day after he was installed as the new chief of the PRO-Northern Mindanao, in line with security and safety concerns he vowed to prioritize.
He checked the Indahag, Lumbia, and Tablon checkpoints, including the checkpoint at El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental.
The PRO-Northern Mindanao top official said the checkpoints mounted by the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo) are in place strategically but he noted minor lapses that have to be corrected and improved.
"Maganda at maayos naman pagka-establish ng checkpoint kasi strategically located pero may some lapses noted na kailangang i-correct at i-improve," Pacleb said.
The police director said the signboards should be enlarged so that approaching vehicles would already see it from afar.
"Dapat yung karatula palakihin natin para malayo pa lang makita na ng mga approaching vehicles," Pacleb said.
The positioning of every member of the inspection team also needs improvement.
Pacleb also noted the need to deploy K9 units at the checkpoints useful at intercepting personalities carrying explosives.
He said he would coordinate with other law enforcement units as regards to the availability of the K9 sniffing dogs so they can be deployed the soonest.
"Mas maganda kung magkaroon tayo ng K9 kasi isa sa binabantayan natin itong mga nagdadala ng Improvised explosive device (IEDs)," Pacleb said.
He directed policemen manning the checkpoints to maintain the strict inspections to both public vehicle commuters and private vehicles.
The police official said passengers will be asked to get out of the vehicle and present identification (ID) cards.
Those who do not have or could not present an ID are asked to write their names and address on the log book.
Pacleb is appealing to the motorists and riding public to extend their patience as authorities are making sure violence would not spill to any parts of the region.
"To the public please bear with us but we are trying not cause too much traffic and inconvenience. Tulungan niyo po kami sa pagpapalakas ng ating security sa CDO (Cagayan de Oro) and other cities," he said.