Cagayan de Oro City mayor forms ‘homeland security’

CAGAYAN de Oro City will be forming a "homeland security department" to monitor the peace and order situation of the city, Mayor Oscar Moreno said on Monday, September 5.

Moreno had met with the police, the military, and other state security forces Monday morning to harmonize security and safety matters.

"City Councilor Romeo Calizo will lead a technical working group, city-wide, that is meant to improve collaboration among everyone in the security sector, including other agencies of government," Moreno said.

Moreno said they plan to integrate the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), Roads and Traffic Administration (RTA), and other security sectors.

Moreno said the group will not be a short-lived task force but will be an institutionalized department.

"Every resource, all the resources that we have they can use. What we will do is help harmonize and build team effort. It's so difficult to talk to each other only in cases of emergency. We should begin very earlier," Moreno said.

The Army’s 4th Infantry Division has detailed soldiers in the city to help boost security.

"You don't see them but they're here. They just want to make sure they don't cause unduly apprehension. Nahibalo ka na daghan dayon muingon that we are being militarized. They are here to help, but they are just also cautious that their presence would not be taken as Cagayan de Oro is being militarized," Moreno said.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier declared "state of lawlessness" (state of lawless violence) after the deadly Davao blast which killed 14 people and injured some 60 others.

Dutere said the declaration is aimed at boosting the collaboration between the police and armed forces in intelligence gathering to counter terrorism.

Right after the declaration, the police and the military began working closely citing Northern Mindanao as a possible target of such terror acts.

"Every corner in this world is very vulnerable to threats. You hope for the best but you prepare for the worst. Security has to be focused, you look at every lead and all the things that could possibly happen and our city is not spared with that," Moreno said.

"I would not be happy announcing nga naay threat, there are info that should not be openly discussed because it may frighten the public. We have to be responsible… Terrorism aims to sow fear and we won't let that happen," Moreno added.

Meanwhile, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) remains on full alert despite the downgrading of alert of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly in the Metro Manila, a police official said.

On Friday night, the PNP upgraded its alert level nationwide to full following the bombing incident in Davao City, where 14 people were killed while at least 60 persons were injured.

In full alert, policemen are not allowed to avail any leaves as well as their day offs to boost police visibility on the streets particularly in vital installations such as air and sea ports, bus terminals, shopping malls, and churches.

NCRPO Chief Oscar Albayalde said aside from policemen conducting foot and mobile patrol, additional checkpoints will also be installed where they will conduct stricter inspection.

"Ang matataong lugar, tulad ng Divisoria, makikita po natin na meron pa pong Swat (Special Weapons and Tactics) units ng Manila Police District na nakatalaga diyan," Albayalde said.

However, easing the worry of the public, Albayalde clarified that they have not received intelligence report of possible terror attack in the Metro.

AFP Public Affairs Office chief Edgard Arevalo said that from red alert, the military has downgraded its alert level to blue particularly in Metro Manila.

"I wasn't told about the reason (of the alert downgrade). I just got the message through SMS… I surmise this follows from the directive that area commanders may downgrade or upgrade the alert status depending on their assessment on the prevailing situation on the ground," Arevalo said.

However, Arevalo said Davao City has fielded additional 120 military forces to conduct patrolling.

"The Task Force Davao has heightened foot patrols. We beefed up our military personnel and intensified the conduct of checkpoint to prevent any other actions by the perpetrators and preempt the occurrence of other related activities," said Arevalo.

Arevalo further added they have not monitored any imminent threat in the said city but assured that intelligence gathering is continuously being conducted. (With a report from Sunnex)
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