Thursday, January 12, 2012

News Update PNoy: Terror threat remains as suspects yet to be arrested

President Benigno Aquino III confirmed Wednesday that the terror threat remains as no suspects have been arrested. At the same time, Aquino ordered security officials to craft a plan to minimize such threats as the election season approaches. “There’s a threat, so far as we have not apprehended an individual, then it remains,” Aquino told reporters at a press briefing after attending the inauguration of EXL Service Philippines Site II in Pasay City. “Before the procession for the Black Nazarene, there were several safehouses raided. Unfortunately, it didn’t have a positive report. We are still looking for all of the suspects,” he added. On Sunday, Aquino revealed that local terrorist groups were planning to disrupt the Black Nazarene celebration. Quiapo Church officials later affirmed receiving similar information. On Monday, Defense chief Voltaire Gazmin said raids on suspected terrorist safe houses yielded negative results. Still, the supposed terror attack prompted the government to tell the telecommunication companies to temporarily disable their services to areas along the route of the procession last Monday. Mobile phones have been known to be used as triggering mechanisms for explosives. After the 22-hour procession ended early Tuesday, the President said success is possible when the government and the people work together. PNoy directives The President said he took the opportunity during the change of command ceremonies at the Philippine Air Force on Tuesday to meet and issue directives to Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa, National Police chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome, Gazmin and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo. “I gave them quite a number of directions, including perhaps to study the possibility if there is a need – since we have elections next year – we are wondering whether the attack on (Cotabato Vice Mayor Muslimin) Sema, was election-related,” he said. Sema survived the attack. A suspected gunman was killed in the incident. “Perhaps it is a call on us, to implement operations that will ensure peaceful elections next year, but actually, (make preparations) as early as this year,” he added. Aquino said there have been always reports on terror threats but the major difference with the Black Nazarene feast was “there were sightings of alleged perpetrators, alleged terrorists, and supposed sightings of device or devices that could have been used for it.” But he assued the public that the government prepares for any eventuality. “At the time that we were confronted with this information, we thought it was most prudent not to take the least risk, and to take all the necessary precautions to ensure that there would be no untoward incidents during the conduct of the Black Nazarene procession,” he said. — RSJ,