By Aaron Recuenco
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has initiated target-hardening protocols in various cities in Mindanao to prevent the repeat of the deadly and destructive Marawi City siege last year.
Director General Ronald dela Rosa, PNP chief, said the initial conduct of defense and security planning for possible terror attacks is currently being conducted in Davao City.
“Our Director for Operations (Director Camilo Cascolan) is now in Davao City and conducting activities related to the security and defense of the city,” said dela Rosa.
The official was reacting to the reports quoting the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim saying that the possibility of another Marawi City-like siege could happen again.
Dela Rosa said that such attack is indeed likely, what with the intelligence reports they have been receiving about the on-going recruitment of the groups affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
But he was quick to point out that if indeed there is a plan anew to lay siege on another city, it would be more difficult on the part of the terror groups.
“Attacks like that in Marawi take a long time of planning, it takes months or even years,” said dela Rosa.
It was recalled that based on the investigation relating to Marawi City siege, the Maute Group took a long time stockpiling guns, ammunition and even food.
But while dela Rosa said that the government was able to defeat the Maute Group and kill some of its key leaders which include the appointed ISIS emir in Southeast Asia Isnilon Hapilon, there are ISIS-inspired fighters who were able to escape.
“We do not know how many of these people were able to escape before the Marawi City was liberated. These same people could be the ones recruiting now,” said dela Rosa.
This is the reason, according to dela Rosa, why they are focusing on the preventive measures in order to deny the ISIS-connected and ISIS-inspired groups in Mindanao to carry out attacks.
Mindanao is still under Martial Law.
Dela Rosa said part of the measures is to raise awareness on the preventive aspect and to encourage quick response on the part of the local forces and local officials.
In this way, he explained that any attempt would be nipped on the bud as early as on the recruitment stage.
“It (defense and security of Davao City) will be replicated in other key cities in Mindanao in order to ensure that there will be no repeat of the Marawi siege,” said dela Rosa.