DEPUTY Presidential Spokesman Gary Olivar assured the public that the military and police are well prepared for more attacks from Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and its supporters.

Olivar said the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) already placed the Southwestern Mindanao, especially Sulu and Basilan provinces, under heightened alert, as law enforcement units go after the perpetrators of an attack in Basilan last Saturday.

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He said assistance would be extended to the victims and their families after armed men burned down houses and killed civilians during the incident.

"Also, to maintain heightened alert to prevent similar occurrences that could be a diversionary effort and retaliation by ASG as result of successful police-military operations that caused the death of Commander Parad in recent operations in Sulu. AFP and PNP (Philippine National Police) to exploit success in the field," he added.

Olivar enjoined the public to be prepared and cooperate fully with the government forces.

"Our fellowmen, especially in Mindanao, should take the necessary precautions but shouldn't fear because our security forces are more prepared now," he said.

Lakas-Kampi-CMD senatorial candidate Silvestre Bello III suggested that the AFP and PNP should launch a house-to-house search in Basilan and other high security risk areas in Mindanao to account for loose firearms that are being used in criminal activities and in terrorizing civilians.

"Civilians are dying in Basilan and other areas in Mindanao, our security forces must impose their might in these areas. If it would require house-to-house search to account for their guns, then let it be," he said.

Bello also urged the PNP and AFP to strengthen security measures like checkpoint areas both to road and near-jungle checkpoints where these rogue elements are often in hiding with their guns.

At least 12 people died while 10 others were wounded when armed men raided a barangay in Basilan, burned houses and killed civilians. (JMR/Sunnex)