Macon Araneta i FilAm Star Correspondent
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has boosted its intelligence information gathering after this week’s suicide bomb blasts in Sri Lanka that killed nearly 300 people, believed perpetrated by a local extremist group.
“Of course number one, we beef up intelligence monitoring during these kinds of incidents,” said PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde.
He conceded the possibilities that the terrorists can move to other places anywhere in the world to seek refuge.
“We are not spared from that. This is what we are looking at. These terrorist might move here,” he added.
The PNP condemned the incident and offered “sincere solidarity” and “heartfelt prayers” to the people of Sri Lanka, renewing its commitment to boost ties.
Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros said there were no words in any language that could express the horror of violence that hit Sri Lanka.
“I stand in solidarity, grief, and shock with the victims, their families, and the nation of Sri Lanka, and I condemn the horrific attacks that claimed more than 200 lives and injured hundreds more this past Easter Sunday,” she said.
She described as an affront not only to the faith, but also to the dignity of those who only wished to celebrate the day in peace and fellowship the attacks which were carried out on the most important day for the Catholic faithful.
She noted that terrorism had no place in this world. She said: “And while they will always try to divide people to make us live in fear and suspicion of one another, we will not let them win.
“The people of Sri Lanka will rise from this tragedy stronger than ever, and they will not stand alone.”
Senator Francis Pangilinan said they are deeply saddened by this horrific act of terrorism and we extend out sympathies to our Sri lankan brothers and sisters.
“We hope the perpetrators of this dastardly crime inflicted upon innocent sri lankan citizens are brought to justice. We stand behind sri lanka during this very difficult time,” he said.
Sen. Joel Villanueva said he shares the grief the Sri Lankan nation is experiencing following the dastardly bombings on Easter Sunday that claimed hundreds of lives and hurt scores more.
“Our thoughts and prayers go to the families who were left behind.
We pray for strength and courage for authorities as they work round the clock to bring those responsible in the attack to justice.”
He considered Sunday’s tragedy a grim reminder of the value of tolerance in our multicultural world.
“Respecting various faiths and religions brings forth progress and prosperity to people of all walks of life. “
Community leaders urged Filipinos in Sri Lanka to stay at home in the meantime for their safety.
Most of the 3,000 Filipinos in Sri Lanka, including those who are married to Sri Lankans, are mostly engineers, technicians and managers of companies, Jenny Verdillo of the Association of Filipinos in Sri Lanka told GMA News TV’s Balitanghali in a phone interview on Monday, April 22.
Verdillo said Filipinos were fortunate since the site of one bombing incident was not frequented by Filipinos as it was too far from where most of them reside.
Sri Lanka has announced a national state of emergency beginning midnight, with government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne saying investigators were looking at whether the National Thowheeth Jama’ath group had “international support” for the deadly Easter Sunday attacks on churches and luxury hotels.
Wary of stirring ethnic and religious tensions, officials have provided few details about 24 people arrested since the attacks.
Not much is known about the NTJ, but documents seen by AFP show Sri Lanka’s police chief issued a warning on April 11, saying a “foreign intelligence agency” had reported the group was planning attacks on churches and the Indian high commission.
The group has previously been linked to vandalizing Buddhist statues.
The death toll from Sunday’s attacks rose dramatically Monday to 290—including dozens of foreigners—in the country’s worst attacks for over a decade.