For test missions 15 Abu Sayyaf men in Cebu?
Jose P. Sollano (The Freeman) - August 9, 2013 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Police in Central Visayas admitted receiving reports that at least 15 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group are in Cebu for test missions.

However, Police Regional Office (PRO)  7 Director Danilo Constantino assured that this should not be a cause for panic as they are doing the necessary measures.

Constantino said they are still validating the report that they received through a text message from an unidentified informant.

But even if this remains to be validated, Constantino said policemen in the region are preparing for any eventualities.

Following the successive bombings that rocked Mindanao, the latest of which was in Cotabato City last Monday that claimed the lives of eight other people, Constantino ordered a heightened alert status in the whole region and directed his personnel to intensify target-hardening measures and system of intelligence monitoring.

"As a matter of fact, tomorrow, we're going to hold an emergency meeting. We have a regional anti-terrorism convergence group. In that meeting, we're going to review our plans if they are still relevant with the recent development such as the car bombing in Cotabato," the new PRO 7 director said.

He said the recent explosions in Mindanao, that claimed a total of 16 lives, prompted them to conduct the meeting tomorrow.

 "Very dangerous ang biro, kasi merong negative effect iyon sa tourism, economy, general peace and order, and might cause panic. Baka gusto lang nila mag-prepare hindi lang PNP, kundi lahat ng members ng security sector," he said.

Senior Supt. Rey Lyndon Lawas, Chief of the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office, said that the text message, which he received last Tuesday, mentioned Lapu-Lapu City as the safe house of the 15 ASG members who are allegedly new graduates of a training held in Tawi-tawi in Mindanao.

"They are sent on a test mission in Dumaguete, Bacolod, Cebu City. Their chosen safe house is in Lapu-Lapu," Lawas disclosed.

As of now, Lawas said they are checking possible hideouts of the notorious rebels and are coordinating and strengthening ties with the Muslim community.

"We don't want to be complacent, hence, we are now taking some measures to validate and be ready to conduct preemptive police operations. We would like to encourage everyone to  institute proactive measures, check unusual people and things around you and inform us immediately. Let's be vigilant," the police chief urged.

The LLCPO chief believes that the group has a local contact in Cebu, who offered the safe house.

Cebu City Police Office Director Noli Romana as well as Cebu Provincial Police Office Director Patrocinio Comendador, Jr. also assured to strengthen security measures in their respective jurisdictions following the text report.

Romana, for his part, suggested that establishments with security camera should impose strict security measures, especially in malls.

"Though there are security cameras, some customers are wearing caps or sunglasses making it hard for them to be identified. They should remove it before entering into malls," said Romana.

He said they will study their security plans and look for ways on how to improve it. He added that the CCPO will meet today with the Muslim community.

Comendador, on the other hand, said that there is no specific threat in Cebu Province although they are not tightening security measures.

"Dili ta magkumpiyansa, pirmi magbinantayon. We can't discount the possibility. Kung tight ang security measure sa certain area, there's a possibility they will transfer," Comendador said. — /MBG (FREEMAN)

ABU SAYYAF GROUP CEBU CEBU CITY CEBU CITY POLICE OFFICE DIRECTOR NOLI ROMANA CEBU PROVINCE CEBU PROVINCIAL POLICE OFFICE DIRECTOR PATROCINIO COMENDADOR CENTRAL VISAYAS CONSTANTINO MINDANAO SECURITY
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