IS claims responsibility for Quiapo blasts; NAIA on full alert

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By William Casis | FilAm Star Correspondent

The Ninoy Aquino Internation Airport (NAIA), the Philippines’ premier airport in Pasay City, was placed on “full alert” after the twin bombings in Quiapo, Manila, which claimed the lives of two people.

Airport Police Department Gen. Romy Labador said all airport policemen were placed on alert status and additional officers were deployed inside and outside all terminals of NAIA.

“Security at checkpoints will conduct random rigid inspections on motor vehicles and the public is advised to oblige for their own protection,” said Labador.

However, Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal stressed the move to place the NAIA on full alert was not to alarm the public but to raise awareness of possible incidents that may occur near the airport terminals.

He directed airport baggage screeners to remain vigilant and to conduct a thorough inspection only when the need calls for it.

He urged the traveling public to check-in earlier to avoid inconvenience.

International Security Analyst Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, warned the Quiapo bombings could be test runs by the Islamic State (IS) for wider attacks during Ramadan.

The ISIS news agency, Amaq, claimed the IS was responsible for the explosions in Quiapo.

Gunaranta said the Philippine government must immediately arrest the people responsible for the blasts, improve knowledge on ISIS operations abroad and work closely with authorities overseas.

In the wake of the Quiapo attacks, the Senate created an oversight committee on intelligence and confidential funds that would look into how the government uses intelligence and confidential funds and the efficiency of government institutions in providing accurate and timely intelligence information.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan, chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security, filed Senate Resolution No. 361 to create the oversight committee to enable the Senate to oversee the efficiency of government institutions in dealing with threats.

“In light of the recent threats to our country’s national security, including disturbance to peace and order by lawless elements, the importance of gathering intelligence information by concerned government agencies cannot be overstated,” said Honasan in his resolution.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, who presided over the session, immediately named the members of the committee—four from the majority group and two from the minority, plus the ex officio members.

The committee will be composed of its chairman, Honasan, and its members—Senators Panfilo Lacson, Richard Gordon, Manny Pacquiao, from the majority bloc; and Deputy Minority Leader Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Sen. Francis Pangilinan from the minority group.

The new oversight Committee on Intelligence and Confidential Funds in the 17th Congress will allow the Senate to continue exercising its oversight functions over the use, disbursement and expenditures of confidential and intelligence funds granted to certain government agencies.

Lacson welcomed the measure, saying there is a need to review the output of military and police intelligence.

Citing the recent twin blasts in Quiapo, Lacson said the more than PHP 5 billion in intelligence funds should be enough to thwart such plots.

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