THE public is encouraged to report “new faces in the neighborhood” as a deterrent against foreign terrorists who may take advantage of “our vast and porous borders” to enter the country, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Friday.
Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesman, issued the reminder following a statement from Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that the military has been verifying reports that there were foreign terrorists that have entered the Philippines through Tawi-tawi and Sulu.
But Arevalo said the AFP could not “discount the possibility” that foreign terrorists have “surreptitiously been able to enter the country given our vast and porous borders.”
“That is why we are also keeping a tight watch over the country’s crevices. We have enhanced our own monitoring and security posture to keep our sea and air ports in check,” he said in a statement.
“We do this with the help of other relevant domestic and international agencies, as well as our own local government units,” Arevalo said.
On Monday, Lorenzana told reporters that the military was monitoring the presence of foreign fighters even if the Marawi siege ended in 2017.
Soldiers have fought the Islamic State-linked Maute terrorists, which also consist of some foreign members coming from several countries in Southeast Asia.
Arevalo said, however, that the Philippines has entered into agreements with other regional and global partners such as the trilateral joint patrol with Malaysia and Indonesia in October as part of security measures against terrorists.
“But at the end of the day, we need the vigilance, cooperation, and active participation of our people in the communities who can monitor and report arrival of new faces in the neighborhood,” he said.