Central Visayas police adopts new anti-terrorism plan

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013


RECOGNIZING Cebu as possible target for terrorists, the Police Regional Office 7 welcomed a new approach by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC).

The “whole of nation approach” was discussed in a recent seminar done by the PRO 7 and local government executives last week.

In this method, the government is not the key player in counter-terrorism campaign, but also the private sector and other stakeholders.

In Cebu, malls, airports, churches and other public areas have been identified as potential terrorist targets.

Oscar Valenzuela, executive director of the ATC-Program Management Center, was the one who discussed the method to the police and local officials.

“This is not just the government’s fight, but the fight of the whole nation,” said Valenzuela.

Valenzuela said they have done the same activity in Manila and Mindanao. And now they focus on Cebu.

“We cannot say Cebu is safe. Ang mga terrorists kasi, they don’t discriminate, everything that they see is target. The threat of terrorism is always around here in our country,” he said.

US, Europe

He said even countries like the US and Europe face threats of terrorism.

PRO 7 Director Danilo Constantino said they have not yet received any terroristic threat in the region as of the moment.

He said they welcome the seminar especially that the PNP is the lead agency in the campaign against terrorism.

“Cebu is a very attractive target kasi nakita niyo naman ang development dito, so the threat will always be there,” said Constantino.

Constantino said they have conducted target-hardening measures on possible targets like government installations and infrastructures, commercial, industrial and financial centers.

Seminar

In last Tuesday’s seminar, police and army officials, local chief executives, regional directors of the Department of Interior and Local Government, National Intelligence and Coordinating Agency, and private sector representatives in Central Visayas signed a pledge of commitment to support the “whole-of-nation” approach against terrorism.

Part of the activity was the training of trainors (TOT) for police and army officers on how to mobilize the community to become effective “force multipliers” in the fight against the threat.

In the TOT, bus terminals, airports, seaports, malls and churches were considered potential terrorist targets and should be secured by the police and local officials.

This was discussed during the two-day “trainors training seminar” at Waterfront Hotel-Lahug conducted by the Anti-Terrorism Council of the Office of the President.

The seminar at the Waterfront-Lahug was attended by trainors from the PNP, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (Nica), Local Government Units (LGUs) and chairs of the local peace and order councils.

Resource persons

The resource persons include those from the Law Enforcement and Security Integration Office, which is under the Office of the President.

The participants will give the same seminar to their localities.

DILG 7 Assistant Regional Director Elias Fernandez of the Department of Interior and Local Government said the participants reviewed the bombings of the airport and seaport in Davao City years ago where hundreds of people died, and the terroristic activities of the Abu Sayaff in Mindanao.

Fernandez said that in Cebu, the potential terrorist targets are Mactan-Cebu International Airports, Cebu seaports, Cebu South Bus Terminal, North bus Terminal, Sto. Nino Church, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, malls and other public areas.

He said some of the solutions are safety camera, deployment of security guards or barangay tanods, police visibility, police intelligence, among others.

Barangay officials have important role in fighting terrorism because they are directly dealing with the grassroots, Fernandez said.

He said it is important to detect and prevent terrorism especially that peace and order is one of those being looked into by potential investors because bringing capital to the country.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 17, 2013.

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