Army, police ready for threats as fiesta nears

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014


LAW enforcers have ensured that Cagayan de Oro is peaceful and orderly amid the threats circulating through text messages intercepted by the local intelligence community hinting there are individuals who want to sow chaos as the annual city fiesta approaches.

Major Christian Uy, spokesman of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID), said there are unconfirmed reports that a bomb would go off during the festivities, but “these are [still] for validations.”

Although they have yet to determine the veracity of this threat, Uy said they are not also downplaying it.

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“We can’t take this lightly. At the same time we don’t want to cause panic since fiesta is nearing, and it might disrupt the economic activities in the city,” Uy told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Monday night.

But he assures the military is taking the necessary precautions, one of which is the monitoring of personalities, especially those with ties to criminal groups or terrorist cells who may be coming in or going out of the city.

The local law enforcement agencies, Uy added, are focusing their sights on Khilafa Islamiyah Mindanao (KIM), a group believed to be inspired by the infamous extremist terrorist network al-Qaida, whose member Usman Hapids was tagged by authorities as the prime suspect in the bombing of a bar at a shopping mall complex here last year.

The bombing incident at Kyla’s Bistro on June 26, 2013 left eight people dead: 46 wounded and had affected the investment and economic climate of the city for a few months.

To track down KIM’s movements and anticipate the possibility that it might once again disrupt the city, Uy said both the military and police are coordinating with the intelligence units in areas where this group is suspected to be holing up.

He said the 4ID and the Philippine National Police-Northern Mindanao (PNP-10) are working together and have been sharing information so they could act accordingly.

And if the threat level is heightened, Uy said the 4ID has its own explosive and ordnance unit on standby in case of a bomb attack.

For his part, Superintendent Michael Pareja, spokesman of the PNP-10, said they are also prepared for any eventuality.

Pareja said Senior Superintendent Graciano Mijares, the city police chief, has already submitted to the PNP-10 headquarters at Camp Alagar, Barangay Lapasan, the security plan for the city fiesta and has requested for backup law enforcers to act as augmentation force.

He said the security plan covers everything, from petty thefts, robberies, possible attacks that might be carried out by the New People’s Army (NPA) or any armed group.

Pareja has also appealed to the people not to spread text messages containing the threats since these could create fear among the city’s residents and guests.

“They should check where these text messages are coming from,” Pareja said.

He added that text messages of this nature should not be taken right away as true.

Most of these digital messages can’t be traced as these are sent using prepaid subscriber identity module (sim) cards that can easily be discarded after use.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 13, 2014.

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