EastMinCom on heightened alert status to deter Abu, prevent NPA

DAVAO CITY – The Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMincom) has placed all its units on heightened alert status two days after an armed encounter between military forces and the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group in Inabanga, Bohol Tuesday.

In a press release, Maj. Ezra L. Balagtey, chief of Public Information Office of the EastMincom, said they raised the alert level to deter any possible diversionary act by the Abu Sayyaf and prevent members of the New People’s Army (NPA) from taking “advantage of the situation and conduct atrocities” while the communities are observing Holy Week.

He said their troops are closely coordinating with different local government units and other law enforcement agencies to strengthen the security of various communities, installations, and infrastructure while some of their personnel and equipment had been sent to Central Command on April 12 to provide additional naval capability in their operations.

On April 11, the same day of the encounter with the terrorist group in Bohol, the Tactical Operations Group (TOG) 10 of the Philippine Air Force based in Cagayan de Oro City dispatched two aircrafts and additional reinforcement to Bohol.

On April 10, a day before the Bohol attack, President Rodrigo Duterte was asked during a press conference at the Davao International Airport before he flew to the Middle East for state visits, if he had information similar to the US Embassy’s advisory against a possible terror attack in Central Visayas, particularly Bohol and Cebu.

Duterte replied: I have read it, not from the military but from the newspaper. And besides kaya natin. Kaya natin (We can take care of this).

He said that during a debate at the Dela Salle University last year where only he showe dup among the Presdiential cnadidates, Duterte said he was asked how he would deal with terrorism and his answer as “harshly.”

In Northern Mindanao, Philippine National Police (PNP) 10 spokesperson Supt. Lemuel Gonda said security forces were also on full alert status and started monitoring the hospitals and clinics for possible presence of ASG members who escaped from Bohol.  (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)