THE Philippine Army in Eastern Visayas put its troops on the highest alert level to block a spillover of terror group to the region from southern Philippines.
Major General Raul Farnacio, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, said government troops in Leyte and Samar had all the reasons to be vigilant given the proximity of the region to Mindanao.
“I don’t want the public to feel unduly alarmed; however, this is possible and we cannot just ignore that there might have a wider group of individuals linked to this terror attack in Mindanao,” Farnacio said.
Farnacio assured the public that the military is well-prepared for the worst-case scenario.
The Army, police, and other state intelligence agencies share information daily to identify potential threats to public safety and map out strategies to disrupt possible terror attacks.
“We are flexing our resources to increase Army presence at key sites, such as transport and other crowded places in Leyte and other parts of Eastern Visayas region,” he added.
The region’s law enforcers have been on full alert status after the town plaza bombing in Hilongos, Leyte, last December 2016 that injured dozens of people.
Meanwhile, all the six police provincial directors in Eastern Visayas were ordered to provide situation report to the regional office in Palo, Leyte, every six hours. The police asked key officials to remain in their respected areas of assignment.
“Public safety is our top priority and we are reviewing our policing stance across the region and police forces are properly deployed in some hot spots areas in the region,” said Chief Inspector Ma. Bella Rentuaya, spokesperson of the Philippine National Police regional office.
Eastern Visayas is the closest among four regions in central Philippines to Mindanao. In the southernmost part of Leyte Island, roll-on roll-off ships have been transporting passengers and vehicles to and from Benit port in San Ricardo town and Lipata port in Surigao City, crossing Surigao Strait.
The distance between the two ports is only 23 kilometers. (PNA)