THE military is not discounting the possibility that extremist groups may launch strikes similar to what happened in Paris but it gave assurances that security forces are ready to counter terror attacks.
Col. Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the terror strikes in Paris and the hostage-taking in South Africa may prompt sympathizers of terror groups in the Philippines to launch attacks.
But he said military troops are prepared for such strikes.
“Our ground commanders are ready to quell any attack in the future from these threat elements to ensure peace and security in our communities,” Padilla said on Monday.
He noted that Armed Forces chief Hernando Iriberri had instructed soldiers to coordinate with the Philippine National Police (PNP) as they continue operations against groups responsible in the kidnapping of foreigners in Mindanao.
“The AFP, together with the PNP, is doing its best to identify and neutralize known threat group leaders and their cohorts, Filipino or foreign, who are operating in Mindanao,” Padilla said.
The official on Sunday said Irriberi had met with ground commanders in Mindanao to discuss the military offensive against local terrorist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf and other organizations with links to jihadist groups.
He clarified that the government’s appeal for vigilance does not mean that the people should veer away from their routines because doing so would be tantamount to yielding to the terrorists’ objective to destroy the public’s normal lives.
“We must not allow ourselves to do that, instead (we should) go on with our ordinary lives, except that we must be vigilant and we must cooperate with our security agencies so that the eyes and ears of your security forces can be enhanced further,” Padilla explained.
He however stressed that the military has not received any credible report that terror groups are planning to launch attacks in the country. There is also no report on the presence of ISIS or its sympathizers in the Philippines.
“There is no authentic link or relationship between the ISIS and the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) in Mindanao. Despite these, we call on citizens of the Philippines to be vigilant and watchful against terrorism and terror attacks,” Padilla said.
But even if security agencies have not monitored any threat, the military is always ready to deal with any contingency, Padilla said.
Malacañang on Sunday also called for public vigilance in the wake of the terror attacks in France and Mali.