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Lorenzana tells civilians to be vigilant, report suspicious persons in communities

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By Francis Wakefield

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said civilian communities should be more vigilant in reporting to military and police authorities any suspicious persons coming in and out of their respective communities in light of what happened to Marawi City after it was occupied by Islamic State-inspired Maute Group terrorists.

In a speech he delivered during the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) Alumni Continuing Education 2017, Lorenzana said by reporting  “suspicious extremist acts,” local and even foreign terrorists would be prevented from doing their evil acts.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana gestures during a press conference held at the Malacañang on February 7, 2017. (Richard V. Viñas / MANILA BULLETIN)

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (Richard V. Viñas / MANILA BULLETIN)

Lorenzana said one way of securing each and every barangay is through the barangay tanods.

“I encourage civilians to report suspicious extremists acts to the authority, the police, military or the barangay captain. So siguro i-implement itong tinatawag na (what we call) barangay tanod, people who would patrol the night. Ang mga bata pag nakikita pauwiin na sila (If they see children order them to go home), and sleep,” Lorenzana said.

“Kids who are there on the streets at midnight, we could only suspect that you are not doing anything good,” he added.

Lorenzana said that just what President Duterte said, there is a need to finish them (enemy) in the nip of the bud before they can start something.

He added that there is a need to take down the roots of terrorism not just to end the ongoing rebellion but foster lasting peace, inclusive development and progress and a sense of national pride in being Filipinos regardless of origin, gender, religion, creed, ethnicity, political ideology, or status.

Increase in intelligence fund

Meanwhile, Lorenzana has welcomed President Duterte’s directive to seek and increase the intelligence fund of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) by next year.

Lorenzana said that for the entire government, the total intelligence funds are estimated to reach P4.2 billion next year, up from P3.49 billion this year.

“This will help up boost intelligence capability of the military. We should have a stronger intelligence network beginning at the barangay levels, and a nationwide surveillance system using CCTVs, drones and the likes. We are going to spend some of the money for drones that could take pictures day and night, those are the thermal,” Lorenzana said.

“We are also planning to acquire, facial recognition system so that if we have a data base on the bad people we can immediately recognize them,” he said.

Lorenzana also said they are looking to train soldiers in urban warfare as a result of the Marawi incident.

“In fact, we have several offers from different countries (for example Australia) for urban warfare. Most of the soldiers sent to Marawi were trained in jungle warfare which is a lot different from the Marawi arena,” Lorenzana said.

He added that there is a need to have a stronger reserve force that is well-trained, adequately equipped and mission-ready.

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