PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur: Police and military forces in this province have been placed on “triple red alert” to be able to swiftly respond to atrocities from lawless and terrorist groups.
Senior Supt. Sofronio Ecaldre, provincial police director, on Tuesday disclosed they raised the alert status based on a recommendation of the National Security Council over an intelligence report of possible attacks and bombings by terrorist groups.
On Christmas Eve, 16 people, including a policeman, were injured in a grenade explosion in front of a Catholic church while churchgoers were receiving holy communion in Midsayap, North Cotabato.
The grenade had been lobbed at a police car.
Authorities, however, said the attack was the handiwork of a drug syndicate affected by the government’s anti-drug campaign in North Cotabato.
Ecaldre said it was agreed during a Provincial Peace and Order Council meeting that police and soldiers’ visibility will be increased in public places such as public markets, plazas, bus terminals, malls and churches especially on New Year’s Eve.
He added that city and municipal police stations would take charge of security in their respective areas while the Provincial Public Safety Company, together with the Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion, were designated to conduct mobile checkpoints along national highways.
Supt. Michael Palermo, city police chief, has advised the public to refrain from carrying backpacks while going to public plazas and malls.
Police authorities also advised the public to refrain from igniting firecrackers in welcoming the New Year.