MEMBERS of the 160,000-strong Philippine National Police have been ordered to launch a massive security measure nationwide including the strict enforcement of the law on firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices and the ban on indiscriminate firing to ensure the peaceful celebration of the coming Christmas and New Year holidays, the PNP leadership said yesterday.
PNP chief, Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa has ordered National Capital Region Police Office director, Chief Superintendent Oscar D. Albayalde, to further step-up their anti-crime and anti-terror campaign in Metro Manila in the wake of last week’s foiled bomb plot along Roxas Boulevard.
The country is now on a security lockdown following a foiled attempt by a group of ISIS sympathizers to detonate a bomb, first at the crowded Rizal Park in Manila before transferring a powerful improvised explosive device fashioned out from an 81mm mortar round near the United States Embassy along Roxas Boulevard on Monday last week.
“We’re on full alert, we’re on Terror Alert 3,” Gen. Dela Rosa told newsmen after presenting two suspects in the foiled plot to unleash the IED some 100 meters away from the US Embassy.
Dela Rosa said police are now conducting mobile and random checkpoints in Metro Manila and other metropolitan and highly-urbanized centers in the Philippines. However, he maintained that the checkpoints won’t be fixed or stationary since President Duterte has ordered the dismantling of those checkpoints amid charges they were being used by some rogues in uniform to extort money from civilians.
The PNP chief said that with the Terror Alert Level 3 already raised, the public should expect much stronger checks in the streets under the PNP Oplan: Sita. “Expect some raids to be conducted by our security forces on suspected terrorist lairs,” he said. “We’re worried that’s why we react accordingly but there’s no cause for alarm. I’m advising the public to be vigilant, to be cautious but don’t be alarmed, let’s enjoy Christmas,” he said.
The massive terror alert was raised a day after the arrest of suspects Rashid Kilala and Jiaher Guinar, 30, of Marawi City who were suspected to have placed the IED inside a trash bin near the US Embassy. The arrests were made by the National Capital Region Police Office and the Manila Police District director headed by Senior Supt. Joel Napoleon M. Coronel.
Similar security measures are being undertaken by the 17 other police regional offices across the country, he said. The security measures are aimed at preventing criminal elements particularly thieves and robbers from pursuing their activities during the Yuletide season.
PNP spokesman, Senior Supt. Dionardo B. Carlos, said they are also ensuring the 100 percent attendance of all policemen in their respective units and offices and make them available to patrol the streets and further minimize criminality during the Yuletide period.
Under the PNP Oplan ‘Ligtas Paskuhan 2016,’ Carlos said PNP personnel will be deployed in places of worship, malls, markets, commercial areas, business districts, bus terminals, the MRT/LRT stations, seaports, airports, tourist destinations, vital installations and other places of public convergence.
“It is during this time that policemen should be alert and people should see more cops on the street as it is expected that criminals would go around preying on the public,” Gen. Dela Rosa said.
The top cop said the PNP is also mobilizing force multipliers composed of Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams, Barangay Tanod, private security agencies, NGOs and civilian volunteers’ organizations to augment local police units in their security operations
“The PNP will be going all out to prevent the loss of lives and limbs and damage to properties due to the traditional practice of using banned firecrackers and other pyrotechnics and more importantly, indiscriminate firing of guns. There will be no exemptions here and all violators will be immediately accosted, jailed and charged in court,” said Gen. Dela Rosa.
The PNP has released the operational guidelines and procedures to be undertaken by the police force in the conduct of security coverage and other public safety services during the Yuletide season and inclusive special holidays in coordination with the Department of Health, local government units and other concerned agencies.
The PNP is also taking into consideration the possibility that terrorist groups and other criminals may take advantage of the situation to carry out their nefarious activities.