PRO-7 director Brigadier General Debold Sinas said they will maintain the alert status to heighten monitoring and police operations. But instead of requesting for augmentation personnel from other regions, Sinas said he asked for more bomb-sniffing dogs to be deployed at the billeting sites of the delegates.
Aldo Nelbert Banaynal
Police on red alert for youth meeting
May B. Miasco, Mae Clydyl L. Avila (The Freeman) - April 23, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — A red alert status has been declared by the Police Regional Office-7 starting yesterday as delegates to the National Youth Day are expected to arrive today.

PRO-7 director Brigadier General Debold Sinas said they will maintain the alert status to heighten monitoring and police operations. But instead of requesting for augmentation personnel from other regions, Sinas said he asked for more bomb-sniffing dogs to be deployed at the billeting sites of the delegates.

“We will not ask augmentation from other regions. But, we will ask more sniffing dogs to help us monitor,” he said.

At least 12,000 pilgrims are expected to start arriving in Cebu today. They will be distributed to nine billeting sites.

Task Force Cebu Commander Noel Baluyan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is confident that the delegates are safe here. He said the AFP is in full coordination with the regional police headquarters.

Not taking chances

Sinas said they are not taking chances in the wake of the recent bombings targeting Catholic churches in Sri Lanka. According to foreign media reports, the attacks took place in three Catholic churches and three other upscale hotels in the Indian Ocean island country leaving at least 290 people dead and 500 others wounded.

The top police official in the region admitted that what happened to Sri Lanka may also happen to Cebu.

“I think what happened to Sri Lanka is applicable to all not only Cebu. We have the same threats and problem,” Sinas said.

He assured the pilgrims that the security forces are doing their best to protect them. The police, however, clarified that they have not monitored any direct threat to the activity.

They are also closely coordinating with the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency to monitor possible terror activities. Sinas said the Muslim communities in Central Visayas are also helping the police.

“We are checking on (eventualities of) sympathizers with NICA and coordinating with Muslim communities and other regional offices too for threat monitoring,” Sinas said.

The police are also asking the public to help monitor suspicious individuals in their community and report them immediately to the nearest police station.

“Explosion of faith”

While security forces are on alert following the bloody Sri Lanka bombings, Church officials are looking forward for an “explosion” of faith and celebration of the National Youth Day in Cebu.

At a press conference Monday, Father Conegundo Garganta, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines - Episcopal Commission on Youth, said more than 10,000 national pilgrims and delegates are expected to come to join with the local participants.

“It will be some kind of an explosion for the young people,” he said.

Garganta said the young people will have a kind of explosion in the singing and dancing, and in their conversations and dialogues.

“That is the nature of young people to bring life and dynamism to an event… It will be a wonderful experience for those who will be coming to Cebu, and for the universal Church to celebrate the youthfulness of our young people,” he added.

The church official is hoping that Cebu, being the host of the country’s biggest gathering among young Catholics, will provide an avenue for participants to gain experience and celebrate one’s devotion and faith.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma prayed that there will be no untoward incidents throughout the event starting on Wednesday until Sunday, April 24 to 28.

He hoped that the celebration will be enjoyable, memorable, fruitful and peaceful that it will bear positive outcome to each pilgrim’s spiritual, cultural and human experiences.

“Each one of us has a role to play… Let us create an atmosphere of friendship, brotherhood and fraternity,” he said.

“And so as we pledge to do our own share of vigilance and of being faithful to our duties and responsibilities, and of creating an atmosphere of friendship, celebration and love, let us entrust all of this to God,” Palma added. (FREEMAN)

NATIONAL YOUTH DAY
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