Cebu’s tourism stakeholders urged to cooperate to deter terrorist threats

By Rosalie O. Abatayo |April 15,2019 - 04:12 PM

Colonel Noel Baluyan, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Task Force Cebu, gives a briefing about the present situation of security threats in Cebu province during the security awareness seminar with tourism stakeholders in Oslob town. | Rosalie O. Abatayo

OSLOB, Cebu — Terrorism is a danger that may plague Cebu, if stakeholders and officials are caught off guard.

Colonel Noel Baluyan, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Task Force Sugbo, has urged communities, especially tourism stakeholders, to participate in terrorist threat detection and deterrent in the province.

During the Security Awareness Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism seminar with tourism stakeholders in Oslob town, about 118.9 km south of Cebu City, today, April 15, Baluyan said Cebu has been identified by their intelligence networks under Threat Level 2.

This means that the province is a constant target to threats of terrorism.

“Plano nila umatake hindi lang nila maisagawa,” Baluyan said.

(They plan to attack, but they have yet to carry it out.)

Read more: UK lifts travel advisory on Cebu

Baluyan added that being home to a number of tourism destinations, Cebu had become a desirable potential target especially for those who were planning to carry out kidnapping and other activities that might harm tourists.

During the seminar, Baluyan introduced the 4Ds in counterterrorism: Detect, Deter, Defeat and Diffuse.

Detection and Deterrent, which is more accessible to the tourism operators, employees and locals, are the first two vital parts of in countering terrorism.

Tourism stakeholders attend the Security Awareness Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism seminar in Oslob town on April 15. | Rosalie O. Abatayo

Baluyan is encouraging the tourism operators to keep vigilance in their surroundings and immediately report to law enforcers if they would observe suspicious persons in their communities.

Read more: DOT-7: 5.5M tourists visited Cebu in 2018

Marlon Barrientos, Department of Tourism in Central Visayas (DOT-7) senior operations head who attended the security seminar, also presented to the stakeholders what the economic risks that the province and the tourism industry would face should terrorism successfully enter the province and the region.

According to the 2018 data of the DOT-7, tourism industries in the regions have earned at least P44.2 billion.

Barrientos said this amount could significantly stop should gaps between the communities and authorities in counterterrorism efforts would fail to be addressed.

Read more: Dino to ask UK to lift travel advisory vs southern Cebu; assures no terror threat exists in the south

In February this year, a security summit was also conducted by the AFP, the Philippine Coast Guard, the DOT-7 and Regional police in coordination with the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV).

The first summit was in response to the travel advisory then issued by the government of United Kingdom after a bombing incident in South Cotabato.

This time, Baluyan said, the summit would be a proactive response of the Interagency task force for counterterrorism in Cebu to potential threats./dbs

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