By Francis Wakefield
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Friday said that it is keeping a tight watch on the country’s waters and borders in the south amid reports that foreign terrorists have entered the Philippines.
AFP spokesman Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo made the remark in a press statement released to defense reporters.
“We cannot discount the possibility of foreign fighters surreptitiously able to enter the country given our vast and porous borders,” Arevalo said.
“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 added.
Arevalo said they are able to do this with the help of other relevant domestic and international agencies; as well as local government units.
“We (also) have conventions and agreements with other regional and global partners like trilateral joint patrol agreements with Malaysia and Indonesia,” Arevalo said.
“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 added.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier defended government’s decision to extend martial law up to December 31 of this year considering that there are still terror forces in Mindanao who are planning a Marawi type of operations in the near future.
Lorenzana made the remark amid the numerous petitions filed before the Supreme Court (SC) questioning the legality of martial law in Mindanao.
“That is the gist of the petition but according to the interpretation of rebellion, rebellion is the continuing action. So it was started in May and it continued toward October (of last year) and it is the belief of the Armed Forces and the police that there is a continuing reorganization of the rebellious forces to fight against the government and to again conduct a Marawi-type operations sometime in the future. So we believe, I also believe in th there is also a continuing rebellion in Mindanao,” Lorenzana said.
“Well, some of the rebellious forces were not all killed in Marawi. Quite a number of them were able to extricate themselves from somewhere there in Mindanao. Some of them are in Central Mindanao, some are in Lanao and the report that we are getting not only from the military from the police but from civilians so there are recruitment going on there, small groups training so we will address those during this martial law extension,” he added.