Police on Monday insisted there are no security threats against the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) summit this week.
“As of now, we can say definitely that there is no such threat … we don’t have any risk, we didn’t receive any reports with regard to this APEC event,” Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, spokesman for the Philippine National Police (PNP), said.
He added that they have not received any request to reinforce the security of delegates in light of Saturday’s terror attacks in Paris, France, which killed at least 128 people. The Islamic State jihadist group had claimed responsibility for the attacks.
“There is no request, adjustment in terms of security in relation to what happened in Paris…There was no request for any visiting economic leaders on adjustments in relation to what happened in France, as of this time,” Mayor said.
A report about the existence of a video purportedly coming from the IS that threatened to launch an attack during the APEC meeting in Manila is also being verified by the PNP, according to Mayor.
“We have intelligence units on the ground, we have the National Intelligence Center in this security task force who are validating and collating these reports,” he said.
Amid the terror scare, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) assured that security measures for the 17 leaders and three representatives for the APEC Leaders’ Summit next week is “under control.”
Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said there is nothing to worry about, and that no delegation has expressed concern about the security steps being undertaken for the leaders’ meeting.
“Of course, our security officials are monitoring and assessing the situation and we are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety and security of all delegates in the AELM [APEC Leaders’ Meeting], especially the economic leaders,” he added.
Security agencies, Jose said, would have to assess the situation and beef up security measures as needed.
“Hopefully, by the time of the economic leaders meeting in Manila next week, we are sincerely hoping that situation in Paris, in particular, [will]have turned to normal,” he added.
The military has placed all its resources on standby in case of a need to respond to any threats to APEC security, Armed Forces spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla said.
“We have on-call our land, sea and air assets, but I cannot give you the numbers,” he told reporters.
Padilla said security forces have meticulously planned “based on worst-case scenario.”
“When you say worst-case scenario, your expectation for [untoward]things that may occur are the worst case[s]. Period. So you prepare accordingly for those kinds of scenarios,” he pointed out.
Padilla disclosed that the APEC security task force has discovered a disinformation campaign aimed at causing panic and undue warnings related to terrorism.
“This [information is]not true. So we appeal to the public that in case they get a lot of these text messages going around or through social media to disregard them or to clarify them to their respective police outposts or any member of the military they may know so we must be very objective, we must be very discerning and we must be very responsible on how we handle all these disinformation so the first thing to do is to clarify and ascertain if [it is]true. Second is not to pass it and to propagate and then to delete it, disregard it once they verify it not to be true,” he said.
Part of the disinformation he disclosed was the supposed video of one Abu Anas that has been circulating in social networking sites.
“Let’s just ignore it and not dignify [it],” Padilla added.
According to him, security forces and the intelligence network are continuously monitoring all the perceived threat groups.
“We play right into their game if we give it attention, so let military, let the security forces do their part, do their job, and the public should at least [help]the security forces by not disseminating these [pieces of disinformation],” he said.
No signal jams
Major telecommunications service providers Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Globe Telecom (Globe) on Monday advised the public there will be no mobile phone and Internet service interruptions during the APEC week.
“We like to assure people our services are operating normally. There is no order from the NTC [National Telecommunications Commission] to shut down services in certain areas.
But, we are also advising our subscribers that our services in some areas may be affected by public safety measures in the course of the APEC summit,” PLDT public affairs head Ramon Isberto said also on Monday.
Isberto added that telecommunications companies can only suspend services if there is a directive from the NTC.
At press time, the commission had not issued any directive to temporarily cut off mobile services.
Meanwhile, Globe also issued an advisory denying a report over social media that their services will be disrupted during the APEC week.
“Globe would like to caution its customers about information spreading in social media and SMS regarding our services this APEC week. Please be informed that there is no truth to the social media posts circulating that there would be downtimes in our services or outright loss of services,” Jocel de Guzman, Globe corporate communications head, told reporters.
De Guzman said that should there be any advice from the NTC to cut off services, Globe will immediately inform its subscribers.