The roadside-bombing of an advance party of the presidential security of President Duterte raises the level of threat to the safety of the President. It should be met with the greatest seriousness and the most appropriate response.
It will not do to nonchalantly shrug it off with populist braggadocio, or to threaten the suspect Muslim rebel group with war (as the President has casually done).
The proper response is to ascertain and recognize that the President, who was scheduled to visit Marawi City, was the real target of the attack, and not his security aides. It is best to get the full facts about the attack and its real implication.
And then it is imperative to review closely and urgently the level and quality of security being provided the President.
If this bombing is truly the work of the Maute Group, then the government is facing a threat from a group connected to the ISIS terrorists in the Middle East, and which moreover has been tagged as responsible for the bombing of a Davao City market last September. The situation is fraught with peril and volatility.
The quality of the President’s security has to be substantially improved, perhaps even radically changed. We have in DU30 a President who is a veritable “security nightmare” because he is often moving around the country, visiting military and police camps as well as other installations. His movements are often announced in advance.
But more important than keeping confidential the President‘s schedule, it is imperative that his security has the highest level of preparedness and capability.
We remember what security experts said when Brussells was devastatingly struck twice last year by Muslim terrorists. They said that Belgium was fighting terrorism blind; it had no clue about what the terrorists were hatching against them because it had no intelligence about the terrorists’ activities, let alone penetration of extremist ranks. Belgium, simply put, did not have the tools to fight the Islamic terrorists.
Our securtity forces – the Presidential Security Group as well as our police-military forces — must not be caught in a similar bind in meeting the high-level threat from the Maute group or any other rebel band.
To contain or repel the threat, our security agencies must learn from the methods and tools adopted by the best security forces in the world.
The work of the British Special Branch and MI5 comes to mind. Israeli intelligence is another good model to learn from. And of course, there is US intelligence, and the US presidential security group.
We have learned that the government of Israel has offered to train the close-in security detail of President Duterte. This is an offer that we should not refuse.