TF Davao assures ‘community exercise’ to test residents’ reaction to terrorism incidents will be properly handled

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 13 Oct) – The Task Force Davao (TFD) assured on Tuesday that the first ever city-wide “Culture of Security Community exercise,” which will field actors disguised as “terrorists” to various locations anytime this week, would be properly handled amid growing concerns that the conduct of this activity would cause panic to the people and might hasten the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Task Force Davao personnel checking passengers. MindaNews file photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Col. Consolito Yecla, TF Davao commander, told MindaNews over telephone that local authorities have been briefed already on how to handle the situation in various locations during the community exercise, organized to gauge how the public would “cooperate with authorities and react to reports of terrorist presence.”

He said the Public Safety & Security Command Center (PSSCC) would release, through Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) and other media outlets, an announcement, describing the faces and attires of the 25 actors who will be disguised as terrorists in churches, hotels/inns, restaurants, malls, and government establishments ahead of the scheduled community exercise.

Yecla warned the public to avoid making posts on social media that would alter the information in the PSSCC-released announcement.

“Altering the facts with an intent to create panic will be tantamount to a violation under Anti-Bomb Joke Law (Presidential Decree 1727),” he said.

Yecla added that the security sector conducted a pilot test around City Hall of Davao and Sangguniang Panlungsod last week and the public did not panic during the experiment.

“We announced already to the public, for one week, that there will be a community exercise,” he said.

Col. Kirby Kraft, Davao City Police Office (DCPO) director, said in a text message that they are meeting with TF Davao to thresh out the mechanics of the community exercise to ensure health protocols are not violated.

The actors, who are members of TF Davao and police auxiliary, will not bring real or dummy weapons or explosives, according to Yecla.

“The actors will just act naturally like an ordinary individual… The actor will enter the establishment as if he is doing a surveillance,” he said.

Yecla said the public are expected to report the “actors” to the police officers around or to the following hotlines of local authorities: 0999-2271111 and 0917-1314333 of TF Davao, and 0916-6592576 of Davao City Police Office, and/or 911 of Davao City Central 911.

The TF Davao reached out to at least 160 establishments last week where the simulation exercise might possibly take place, he said.

He said the military and police forces would be deployed to secure the venues to prevent the activity from getting disrupted by spectators.

Based on the guidelines published by the City Government of Davao on its social media page, Dabawenyos are encouraged to participate in the exercise by reporting the suspicious individuals to authorities when they spot them in public areas.

It said the actors will be supervised by personnel from TF Davao and DCPO to ensure their own security in case the exercise may trigger negative reaction from the public.

Once the “suspicious individual” is reported, then the “terrorist” will be counted as “neutralized.” (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)