By Daniel Llanto | FilAm Star Correspondent
Police tasked to secure the November 10-12 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila and Pampanga were warned to be wary of lone-wolf terror strikes similar to the shooting attacks in Texas as well as sympathy attacks on behalf of the defeated Maute-Islamic State terrorists in Marawi.
The warning on such attacks was issued by Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla who called on the Manila and Pampanga police to be wary of possible sympathetic attacks by individuals or groups still loyal to the defeated Maute-IS terrorists.
Interior and Local Government Officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy said this is the look-out of over 600,000 police personnel various national and local government units assigned to secure the summit. Aside from the large deployment of troops, government resources are also prepared to monitor, respond and provide support during the event.
Apart from the large police deployment, Cuy said government resources have also been mobilized to monitor, respond and provide support during the event. These include 203 patrol cars, 394 motorcycles, 22 armored cars, 30 helicopters, 59 fire trucks, 94 ambulances, 125 explosive detection dogs/K9, and 82 sniper teams.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald Dela Rosa said the 19,000-strong police force is all set and ready for ASEAN. This year’s ASEAN Summit will be attended by heads of state of the 10 ASEAN-member nations, dialogue partners, observer states, and other invited delegates from the Asia-Pacific region that include U.S. President Donald Trump.
In Manila, Mayor Joseph Estrada ordered the city police to see to it that security measures are fool-proof so that the shooting attacks that took place in Texas and New York do not happen as Manila hosts the ASEAN summit.
“So far there are no security threats — no actual, direct or imminent threats. But there are intelligence reports that we are closely watching — the possibility of lone wolf attacks,” Estrada said, quoting Manila Police Department Chief Supt. Joel Coronel.
“We are not being overly suspicious,” Estrada insisted, “but we should listen to the AFP’s advice to be more vigilant and more observant of our surroundings.”
Coronel admitted that such lone wolf attacks, similar to the one carried out by the Uzbekistan-born suspect in the New York terror incident and the lone gunman that went on a shooting spree at a Baptist church in Texas, are possible
“Sympathetic attacks from Marawi, because of the Marawi crisis …. that is also a possibility, this is one of the repercussions like what happened in the United States recently … to express sympathy or express support to the Maute Group. We are watching this,” Coronel said.
To protect the City of Manila, he said they have asked the help of the local Muslim communities.
“We are working closely with our Muslim communities through their elders. They are cooperating with us, in fact, helping us in securing the Muslim areas. Hopefully, we will not be infiltrated by the Jihadists or extremists. We are counting on their help, their vigilance in the community,” Coronel added.
As part of preparations for the ASEAN Summit, Coronel announced they have fielded 2,700 police personnel starting November 5.
They will be part of the 23,000 policemen and soldiers that will compose the ASEAN Security Task Force (ASTF) under the operational control of Director Napoleon Taas.
With this commitment of 2,700 policemen to the ASTF, Coronel said the MPD is left with around 1,400 policemen to protect the city.
“There will be a lot of security convoys. Closures and re-routing will start on November 13 and 14,” he said as he called on the public to stay away from the venues of the ASEAN Summit as far away as possible to avoid inconvenience.
These include the CCP Complex, SM MOA Arena and in Manila, hotels where the foreign delegates and VIPs will be billeted such as Manila Hotel, Manila Diamond Hotel, New World Manila Bay, Pan Pacific, and Century Park Sheraton.
“Since November 13, 14 and 15 are holidays, we recommend that Metro Manila residents visit other places outside of Metro Manila for vacation. That’s our advice,” Coronel said.