FVR stresses need to intensify intelligence gathering vs Abu Sayyaf terrorists

By Ben Cal

MANILA, Nov. 15 (PNA) — Former President Fidel V. Ramos ruled out on Sunday the possibility of any threat coming from an international terrorist group that could sow terror during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting here this week similar to the terror attacks by Islamic terrorists in Paris that killed at least 129 innocent civilians.

In an interview over DZMM/ABS-CBN news, Ramos, a retired four-star general and defense secretary, stressed the need for the military and police to intensify their intelligence gathering against the Abu Sayyaf terrorists.

Ramos gave his observation when asked by radio-television host Julius Babao during the latter’s morning program on DZMM/Channel 2 on the possible threat by foreign terrorist group that could attack during the holding of the 2015 APEC Leaders’ Conference in Manila on Nov. 18-19, similar to the deadly attacks they did in Paris and other parts of France over the weekend.

“There is none coming from outside the country,” Ramos replied.

“This is based on the information I got from the media and Wikipedia since I’m no longer in government,” he added.

However, Ramos pointed to the Abu Sayyaf Group which he said had attacked a passenger bus in Makati City in 2011 that killed several people.

He said the Abu Sayyaf terrorists showed that they are capable of carrying such an attack.

Ramos called on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to intensify their intelligence operations to preempt any possible attack by the Abu Sayyaf.

Meanwhile, Col. Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP spokesman, said that although no security threat has been monitored so far, the AFP and the PNP are taking no chances to ensure the safety of the heads of state and some 7,000 dignitaries attending the APEC Summit on Nov. 18-19.

Padilla declined to give the exact figure of how many security forces are being deployed, saying they are considerable enough to respond to any threat.

Among the world leaders who are expected to attend the APEC Leaders’ Summit are United States President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto, Chile President Michelle Bachelet, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Tight security measures will be enforced during the summit such as the closure of several major streets in Metro Manila, rerouting of traffic, mandatory closure of windows of high-rise buildings and hotels along the routes where heads of state would pass by going to the conference site at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in suburban Pasay City and other venues where meetings would be held.

Air traffic will be closed to international and domestic airlines during the arrival and departure of the heads of state.

In fact, many international and domestic airlines have cancelled their flights to Manila next week.

The Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guards have been patrolling Manila Bay the past few days.

As of 8:20 a.m. Saturday, Chief PNP Ricardo C. Marquez placed all PNP units nationwide under full alert condition to ensure availability and operational readiness of police forces to respond to any contingencies as the APEC meeting nears.

“Although we have not monitored any specific or direct threat in our home front, nonetheless, target hardening measures on vital installations, particularly seaports, airports and our rail systems have been further elevated to maximize deterrence against unforeseen events,” Marquez said in a statement. (PNA)