ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 4 March) – The police and the military here have conceptualized and adopted a security plan dubbed as “PuMA,” which involves the deployment of “Pulis-Marines-Army” in a bid to step up the already heightened security measures in this city.
Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, Zamboanga City police director, said they have come up with such security concept to safeguard vital installations in the city and “all possible vital targets of terrorists.”
Casimiro disclosed this city is on full alert due to “high threat” level because of persistent reports of bombing and kidnapping plots by lawless elements, including the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
“As we know in the past, Zamboanga City always carry the burden of diversionary actions, especially if there are government offensives in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi,” Casimiro said.
Government forces are continuously pursuing the Abu Sayyaf in the provinces of Basilan and Sulu where they are believed to be holding captives some people, including a Dutch birdwatcher and a Korean businessman.
Casimiro said there will be realignment of forces under the PuMA concept since the Marine Battalion Landing Team-1 (MBLT-1) has been placed under the operational control of Task Force Zamboanga (TFZ).
Casimiro said the MBLT-1 troops will be in charge of the security in the city’s west coast, including the central business district, which is within the seven-kilometer radius from City Hall.
This city’s west coast shares boundary with the province of Zamboanga del Norte.
Casimiro said the Army component of TFZ is deployed in the east coast up to the boundary with Zamboanga Sibugay province.
Lt. Col. Ronaldo Juan, MBLT-1 commander, said the residents of this city will see the joint deployment of Marine soldiers and policemen, particularly in the conduct of checkpoints and foot patrols.
“We are doing this in support of the law enforcement operation of the police,” Juan added.
Col. Andrelino Colina, TFZ commander, said that Army troops from the service company of his headquarters can still be seen in the downtown area although their focus is in the east coast.
Meanwhile, Juan appealed for the residents’ support by way of reporting presence of people acting suspiciously in their community.
“I would like to remind each and everyone that security is everybody’s concern. Let us help one another,” he said.