Monday July 23, 2018

Public urged to be extra cautious as country’s under a state of nat’l emergency

WATCH out for any suspicious-looking things and persons. Immediately clear the area and don’t touch anything.

Senior Insp. Sandley Sabang, chief of the Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat), said the public should report any indications of questionable demeanor from a person.

“It’s often persons who look like they’re in a hurry, or look worried. They’re uneasy and restless,” Sabang said in Cebuano.

And in case the public spot something that don’t seem to belong to a particular area, they should report this to authorities right away and stay clear of it.

At 8:45 a.m. yesterday morning, the Cebu City Police Station 2 received a call about an abandoned bag found inside the Cebu City Sports Complex, which is connected to the Abellana National School.

The call turned out to be a hoax.

PO3 Cliffton Manogura said the police team that was dispatched to the area did not find anything, not even a plastic bag.

“My colleagues walked around the track and field oval as well as the school but they did not see anything. It was a negative,” Manogura said in Cebuano.

No to false calls

However, Sabang said the public should call for assistance if they encounter something similar.

“Just make sure to call the nearest police station so they can cordon the place until the bomb disposal technicians arrive to check,” he said in Cebuano.

Meanwhile, Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak urged to the public to refrain from making prank calls to the police and to the city’s command and control center (C3) after the heightened alert took effect in the entire city.

“We asked the public not to make false calls because it can cause panic since responders will cordon the area.

Aside from wasting the responders time, its also a waste of resources because the government will spend gasoline for its vehicles,” he said.

Prank calls also delay the respond time if there are legitimate alarms.

Tumulak said every call received at C3 is considered legitimate, that is why the public should avoid using it for reporting false information.

The country was placed under a full-alert status after a bomb ripped through a busy night market in Davao City last Friday night.

Both the police and the military are being deployed in several strategic areas in the whole of Cebu Island to prevent threats from extremists or rebel groups.

The public are encouraged to remain vigilant and mindful of their environment.

In a related development, the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) met last Monday afternoon to discuss security at ports following the Davao City bombing.

Many entry points

Cebu Province has several entry points for lawless elements as it has several ports and has a long coastline.

“We involve the participation of maritime forces like coast guard, navy, maritime police, even the local police, especially the local government unit,” said Police Regional Office 7 Noli Taliño.

Officials from the Cebu Port Authority assured during the RPOC meeting that they can check private ports, which criminals might use as a transhipment point for their contraband like illegal drugs or dangerous devices from other places.

Taliño said illegal drug traders might create a scenario like bombings to distract police in their campaign against illegal drugs.

At the Cebu South Bus Terminal (CSBT) in Cebu City, all passengers have to undergo frisking and their bags inspected.

According to CSBT manager Joey Herrera, those were the instruction after the facility was placed under heightened alert.

He appealed to commuters to be considerate with minor delays.

Guards equipped with long-handled mirrors will also check under all vehicles entering the terminal and open their baggage compartments.

He also informed bus operators to check the cargo and bags of passengers from the towns.

Any unattended bags will have to be immediately reported to his office.

More deployment

Central Command (Centcom) personnel have also been deployed in the facility, he said.

Since President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of national emergency, soldiers are now visible on the streets in the region.

Major Gen. Raul del Rosario, Centcom chief, said the deployment is “aimed to suppress and prevent lawless violence and to secure human lives.”

Centcom sent troops to help government forces go after the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Three army battalions from the 3rd Infantry Division based in Jamindan, Capiz and the 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City, Samar were sent to Western Mindanao to augment troops there. (A battalion consists of 300 to 800 soldiers.)

These were the 11th Infantry Battalion, formerly based in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental; the 63rd Infantry Battalion, formerly based in Lope de Vega, Western Samar; and the 19th Infantry Battalion, formerly based in Kananga, Leyte.