The terrorists are among us

INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - March 27, 2017 - 12:00am

It’s a frightening thought but it’s true. This is what Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa revealed during a press conference last week. He had initially denied that terrorists were here in Metro Manila, but he later retracted that statement and made a follow up one to say that yes, terrorists from the Maute group may have established presence here in the city. This statement was made after the arrest of Nasip Ibrahim in Barangay Culiat in Quezon City.

During the arrest, the PNP were able to recover a slew of weapons, drugs, and an improvised explosive device that they believe was going to be used somewhere in the city – possible Rizal. The Maute terrorist group was also the same group that planted the bomb near the US Embassy last year. They were also behind the 2016 Davao night market bombing that killed 14 people and wounded dozens of others.

According to reports, the Maute group is linked with the Abu Sayyaf band of Isnilon Hapilon, recognized as an emir or leader of the ISIS in Southeast Asia. We have been hearing news for some time that the ISIS is putting up a caliphate in Central Mindanao and the thought that it is already established and sending terrorists throughout other parts of the Philippines is quite horrifying.

This latest piece of news and the thwarted bomb attack just goes to show that the threat is no longer remote but right at our doorstep. If the ISIS is losing ground in the Middle East, it doesn’t matter because they have already successfully set up shop in other parts of the world. Their goal of spreading terror and death has gone beyond the borders where they began and they are establishing strongholds around the globe. At this point, unified efforts all the world are needed to help stop them.

I can only hope our PNP and armed forces can remain hot on their trails or even one step ahead to prevent any terrorist attack from happening. Along with the capture of Ibrahim and the bomb, three other Maute members were also captured during subsequent operations. We have to pray that we can continue to diffuse (bad pun intended) the situation before things explode.

PNP Chief Bato has adamantly told all citizens of the metro to remain calm but to be even more vigilant of inexplicable and strange behavior in public places. He reminds us all to be on the lookout. After all, we all have a stake in keeping the peace and order in the city. We all have to work together and not be afraid of speaking up. I like what he said that prudence is the better part of valor and despite the threat of causing panic, the PNP was right to warn everyone in Metro Manila that the terror is among us and that we should all be careful.

Terrorism has been a problem that the Philippines has faced for many years. This is sadly not something that is new to us. However, to know that the terrorists are, literally, among us is quite scary indeed. We must be careful and remain on high alert.

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San Miguel Corporation (SMC) deserves a pat on the back for their announcement that they would strive to reduce the company’s water consumption across all their sites by at least 50 percent in the next eight years. It’s a bold move, but one that is absolutely necessary in the world that we live in now where our water supply is diminishing by the day. I admire companies that take big steps to do their part in helping to preserve the environment.

According to SMC, the steps they will take to help reduce their water consumption include water recycling, conservation, and harvesting of rain water to name a few to meet their goal by 2025. The announcement coincided with World Water Day and alongside cutting consumption the company has also announced that its water sustainability efforts would also include educating their employees, business partners, and communities about water stewardship.

An enhanced water management system will be rolled out in an effort to mesh sustainability into the company’s business goals. Ramon Ang, SMC president and chief operating officer shared that the company is already quite efficient in using water but that they could always do more. SMC will strive to set the example so that other companies in the country can follow suit. Imagine how much we can save if we all do our part. Every little bit adds up and I applaud SMC for taking a bold step in the right direction.

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It would seem that President Duterte is in full support of his Environment Secretary Gina Lopez despite the loud outcry of the mining sector. I honestly believe that they also deserve their day in court and to be able to voice out their concerns. It’s quite sad that the industry has been vilified so badly when it may only a couple of bad apples in the barrel that should the reason for concern.

As I have mentioned in previous columns, I believe in responsible mining and what it does for the country for both resources and employment. I have seen it firsthand and I know a lot of the major players are doing their part in environmental protection and awareness all while responsibly handling their operations. I don’t think everyone should be made to suffer just because of a few mistakes – which can easily be remedied and removed.

I believe that government should think long and hard before pushing through with banning mining in the country. A compromise can definitely be reached through open dialogue and communication. This is something that is important so that both sides of the story can be heard and both sets of concerns can be put on the table. At the end of the day, nothing is ever one sided. It’s possible to come up with a solution that is win-win.

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