Alert up in Oro vs terror plots

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Monday, June 30, 2014


CAGAYAN de Oro City has been placed under heightened alert after President Benigno Aquino III declared that Mindanao is confronted with 'possible terror threats.'

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has now placed the city under response system alert level 2 (CSRS-2) along with the entire northern Mindanao and neighboring provinces.

Captain Christian Uy, 4th Infantry Division (4ID) spokesperson, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone Sunday afternoon that the region is already in a state of hyperactive security level even before the Malacañang ordered Sunday that Mindanao must remain in heightened security alert.

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Uy said the military is closely working with the Philippine National Police (PNP) to assure residents they are “safe and secured” from possible terrorist groups in the areas.

Although Malacañang has kept mum on the reason of the ordered high alert, Senior Inspector Lemuel Gonda, Cagayan de Oro Police Office (Cocpo) spokesperson, said the alert must be due to the series of crimes and armed encounters between government troops and the New People's Army (NPA) rebels recently.

Cagayan de Oro was bombed in July 2013 killing eight people including doctors and medical representatives who were attending a national convention at a mall here.

Suspects of the July 2013 bombing have remained at large.

Scarce police

“Despite the scarce number of police officers in the city, rest assured that enough forces will secure Cagayan de Oro,” Gonda said.

Other cities mentioned by Aquino which are under threat are Davao, Koronadal and Kidapawan.

On Saturday, a national daily reported that Abu Sayyaf senior leader Isnilon Hapilon may have survived a gunfight with the AFP despite being shot on the belly.

Hapilon’s death could deal a “huge blow” on the Abu Sayyaf because of his clout and popularity as the religious head of the group in Basilan, the report said.

It furthered that the Abu Sayyaf is planning to sow terror in the cities of Davao, Cotabato and General Santos after one of the group’s bomb factories was raided last June.

Abu Sayyaf’s bomb expert Abdul Basit Usman, who has a $1 million bounty on his head, was reported to have survived the attack, the report furthered.

Verify terror plots reports

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that all intelligence units have been alerted to verify reports about the terror threat in Mindanao.

"Masinsin po ang pakikipag-ugnayan ng AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) at PNP," he said over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said that Aquino called and informed him about the possible terrorist attack in his city or other parts of Mindanao, such as the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Koronadal, and Kidapawan.

"There is nothing to worry about this situation. This is normal precaution and information sharing," Coloma said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on June 30, 2014.

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