By Francis Wakefield
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said that as far as they are concerned, they have not monitored any presence of the Maute Group here in Metro Manila contrary to claims made by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
AFP Public Affairs Office (PAO) chief Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo, made the remark on Tuesday (March 21) following the arrest of a suspected Maute Group member, Nasip Ibrahim, in Barangay Culiat, Quezon City on Monday (March 20) night.
In a press briefing at Camp Aguinaldo on Tuesday (March 21), Arevalo stressed that as far as the AFP intelligence community is concerned, they have not monitored the presence of the Maute Group in the metropolis.
“We don’t know what the PNP’s basis for them to say that the Maute Group already has presence here in Metro Manila,” Arevalo said.
“But we would like to ask the people to remain vigilant and always support security forces in efforts of neutralizing the enemy. Magtulungan tayo, because security is everybody’s concern,” Arevalo said.
Arevalo said they will be needing the active support and vigilance of the people so that the Maute Group and other terrorist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Isis inspired Ansar-al Khilapa based in Lanao del Sur, will be prevented from entering Metro Manila.
“Our operations will continue in efforts of going after these terror groups,” Arevalo said. “So far we don’t have any information on that. Our appeal to the public is for all of us to remain vigilant and help each other in ensuring the security of the metropolis.”
For his part, AFP spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, said the AFP is coordinating with the PNP on the details of the matter.
“Be assured that the AFP is always prepared to assist in the event of any contingency. For the AFP, it is not a question of “If” (any threats exist) but rather of “When” these threats become active. Hence, the need to be prepared at all times,” Padilla said.
Padilla said the AFP is always proactively engaged to negate terrorists efforts. He also said that the public should also go on with their normal activities and must not allow such information to derail them from their normal routine.
“As before, staying alert, vigilant & observant of your environment and cooperating with authorities by sharing information is always a deterrent that will significantly enhance the security posture of our communities,” Padilla said.