Better safe than sorry
TO avert possible terror attacks in Central Visayas, Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III on Thursday convened the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) and urged law enforcers and local government leaders to step up their security arrangements to ensure no terrorist can enter the region.
Special attention is given to all ports in the region — public and private — where terror groups are expected to pass.
Davide requested for additional policemen and soldiers to man the ports in Cebu and for the port police to strictly inspect vehicles and baggage that arrive in the island instead of just looking at the documents that go with them.
While there are so far no imminent threats of terrorism in the region, Davide, chairperson of the RPOC, said they do not want to be complacent.
“Whether or not there is a martial law, our paramount concern is the security and safety of everybody — passengers, residents, and visitors in the Visayas especially in Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor,” he said during the RPOC special meeting at the Montebello Villa Hotel in Cebu City.
“We have to be vigilant and watchful at all times. It’s just right to be strict in implementing our security arrangements especially for those who come to the region,” he added.
Davide also called on the barangay captains and officials to keep a record of their respective inhabitants and help law enforcers in monitoring the possible presence of terrorists.
“We could not discount the possibility that there might be outsiders or strangers who will come here, so really have to be alert and vigilant,” he said.
Present during the RPOC meeting were Mayors Luigi Quisumbing of Mandaue City, Paz Radaza of Lapu-Lapu City, Eduardo Gullas of Talisay City, Carlo Jose Martinez of Bogo City, Ronald Allan Cesante of Dalaguete town, and Dean Villa of Larena Siquijor; Councilors Socrates Fernandez of Talisay City, and Dave Tumulak, who represented Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña.
Also present were Colonel Medel Aguilar, assistant chief of the unified staff for civil military operations of the Central Command, Brigadier General Arnulfo Matanguihan, commander of 302nd Army Brigade, Senior Supt. Dennis Agustin, deputy director for operations of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), and Supt. Julian Entoma of the Regional Operations and Plans Division (ROPD). Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, director of PRO-7, was in Manila yesterday for a joint conference of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines in Malacañang.
Quisumbing expressed concern over the security in smaller ports which are usually not given much attention by authorities.
“We worry about the vulnerability and accessibility of these ports especially since we have seen that the primary method of incursion of criminal elements is really by the ports. Smaller ports have to be monitored,” he said during the RPOC meeting.
Quisumbing requested the Cebu Ports Authority (CPA) for a meeting to plan out how to improve the security measures implemented in all ports.
He said the Mandaue City government is ready to extend the closed-circuit television (CCTV) system in its ports for authorities to monitor the activities at the harbor areas.
The same concern was raised by Radaza considering that Lapu-Lapu City and the rest of Mactan Island have many entry points which terrorists may capitalize.
“There are even island hoppings. What are the security procedures being taken (by CPA)?” she asked.
Senior Supt. Glenn Sarador, officer in charge of the port security safety and environmental management department, said they will discuss the concerns of the two mayors in a meeting next week.
“I just would like to make an assurance that we will enhance the security measures in our ports, particularly the private ports and those managed by the local government units, to ensure that there will be no spillover from the Marawi incident,” he said.
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