THE Negros Occidental Provincial Government will convene its crisis management body next week to strengthen its security measures against possible terror threats.
Maria Lina Sanogal, provincial planning and development coordinator, told SunStar Bacolod Tuesday, June 6, that the Capitol is “refining” the draft of the executive order creating the task force expected to be signed by Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. within the week.
The task force can then convene next week, she added.
Sanogal said the creation of the body was recommended by Major General Jon Aying, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
She added that it is an “offshoot” of the crisis in Mindanao, which was placed by President Rodrigo Duterte under martial law for 60 days.
Sanogal said the task force would be a “combination” of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and Provincial Peace and Order Council.
Apart from the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army, the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard will also comprise the crisis management body, she added.
Sanogal said the creation of the task force is aimed to thwart possible terror threat and to make the community aware and vigilant.
Sanogal said the first activity of the task force after it will be convened is the holding of the Security Summit, scheduled on the second or third week of July.
Speakers will be invited to tackle topics such as understanding Islamic extremism, conditions that created it, how to address it and prevent terror especially in the barangay level.
Sanogal said that mayors, barangay captains, and various stakeholders like representatives from non-government organizations and academe are expected to attend.
In Negros Oriental, the Provincial Government already established a task force whose sole purpose is to address terrorism and kidnapping.
Governor Roel Degamo said that his province is “ready” for any threat, adding that Task Force Leon Kilat was established since 2015.
He said it’s important for a local government to create a crisis management council so it could only focus on terror threat.
“The local government has a lot of work, so creating a task force for this purpose can monitor any terror threat,” Degamo added.
He said there should be coordination between the local government and the community.
“Here, if a resident sees a new face in the barangay, they immediately report it to the Provincial Government or the police,” the governor said.
Moreover, Degamo said the security forces in his province are on full alert, following the intelligence report that seven vehicles carrying explosives bound to Manila from Mindanao will try to pass through Visayas.
Lieutenant Senior Grade Jimmy Oliver Vingno, head of Coast Guard Station-Bacolod, said the rigged vehicles may be transported through roll-on, roll-off vessel from Mindanao to Visayas and then Luzon.
‘Only two checked out’
According to the report, the seven vehicles that allegedly contain improvised explosive device (IED) are black Toyota Hilux (with plate number TO 4823), white Nissan Sentra (UER 452), black Toyota Land Cruiser (VIM 889), black Honda Civic (KDY 462), grey Toyota Vios (ZBM 340), black Isuzu DMax (PIJ 139) and black Toyota Innova (ZDT 395).
Bimbo Miraflor, executive director of Task Force Leon Kilat, said they checked the plate numbers of the “watchlisted vehicles” with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and found out that the silver Toyota Vios and the black Isuzu DMax have “correct description” with the agency’s database.
The owner of the Vios was from Cavite and was last registered on February 2016 while the DMax was last registered on October 2016. Both vehicles have no LTO apprehension and alarm, he said.
“The other plate numbers refer to different vehicles,” Miraflor said while there was no record found on the black Toyota Land Cruiser (VIM 889).
For plate number TO 4823, it was registered to a motorcycle, a red 2005 Honda Wave 100, last March 2009; UER 452 was registered to a white 1996 Isuzu last February 2017; KDY 462 was registered to a white 2010 Toyota Vios on February 2017; and ZDT 395 was registered to white 2006 Ford Ranger Trekker on May 2016 with its owner from Makati. All four vehicles have no LTO apprehension and alarm.
Miraflor, in his Facebook post, told the public to be vigilant.
“The numbers may be a ploy. If in any case, you happen to see any suspicious-looking cars, heavily tinted and in convoy with another car with unverified plate number, please inform your nearest police station,” he said.
Authorities in Negros Island are on alert for the seven vehicles. They appealed to the public not to panic, and instead help them locate the said vehicles.