By MASIDING NOOR YAHYA and JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL
This week’s twin blasts in Jolo, Sulu, which killed soldiers and civilians alike in a suspected terror attack, have alerted urban localities in the country including the National Capital Region (NCR) and thus increased security measures in their respective areas.
As of this posting, seven soldiers, six civilians, and a police officer were reported killed, with more than 70 victims injured in the blasts that happened on Monday in Jolo, capital town of Sulu, one of the provinces of the Bangsamoro autonomous region.
The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) was on alert following the deadly blasts in Jolo, NCRPO chief Police Major General Debold Sinas said during a Tuesday press briefing.
Sinas added that the Metro Manila police were monitoring whether anyone possibly involved in the Jolo attack arrived in the capital region. He admitted that police were alarmed over the large number of casualties from the bombings.
“We have alerted our people, we have alerted the different district offices on the bombing incident and to monitor if there are from Jolo who came here to us,” Sinas said.
“We have also directed our intel community and our chief intel to coordinate with their counterparts in case there come from Mindanao who enter here,” Sinas added.
The NCRPO chief also said that police officers were patroling establishments such as malls, supermarkets, plazas, train stations, and terminals, adding that, it was also constantly coordinating with law enforcers in the Mindanao region.
In Davao City, the Police Regional Office (PRO) in the Davao Region told the media they are on full alert status following the Jolo bombings.
PRO-Davao Director Brigadier General Filmore Escobal said on Wednesday, August 26, that the entire security sector in the region is on the lookout for possible terrorist-related activities.
“We also anticipated a similar incident because of the prevailing information that there are some elements in our adjacent regions which are sympathetic to these groups,” Escobal said in a virtual presser.
However, he said it is “unlikely to happen due to geographical distance.”
In Cebu City, the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) is also on full alert following the bombing incident.
PRO-7 director Police Brigadier General Albert Ignatius Ferro said on Tuesday, August 25, 2020, that he has directed the police chiefs that all critical infrastructures in each police station’s area of responsibility, including seaports, airports and terminals, must be monitored and be given proper security.
“We issued a directive to be more alert and vigilant because of the incident in Jolo. We are not lowering our guards,” said Ferro.
According to Ferro, the Jolo incident is a “barbaric act of terrorism,” which may happen in Central Visayas if not taken seriously by the police and the public. He said this is why there are immediate security measures done to be able to prevent any possible attacks.
Though there have been, so far, no reports or incidents of terrorism attacks in the region. Nevertheless, staying alert is a must not only for the law enforcers but for the public as well.
BARMM condemns the Jolo blasts
In a statement on Wednesday, two days after the incident, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) condemned the Jolo carnage.
“At a time when the world grapples with the challenges of a global pandemic and during a period when we are just entering a new phase for the region, an act like this deserves nothing but condemnation and appropriate actions,” the BARMM said in a statement.
It assured that it will “maximize all its resources to make sense of this tragedy and find out and put into justice the perpetrators behind the attacks.”
“We will be coordinating with the local authorities and move forward with measures necessary for incidents like this,” the Bangsamoro government added.
But a Muslim observer who preferred not to be named lamented that word of condemnation is not enough. He said the Bangsamoro government may fail if it cannot maintain peace and security in the region. “Peace, security and development were the main highlight of their advocacy when they were negotiating with the government for the Bangsamoro organic law,”
He said the incident is not the first time to happen in the region. “In the same town last year, similar bombs exploded at the Jolo Cathedral that took scores of lives and wounded plenty.” But what the BARMM did was issued a word of condemnation,” he said. “There was no concrete move to prevent the recurrence of similar incident.”
Meanwhile Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday called for the suspension of entire Jolo police station amid probe into bombings.
Hontiveros said doing so would allow authorities a freer hand to investigate the bombings. PMT