By Aaron Recuenco
Police forces in Metro Manila are keeping a close eye on all the possible areas where suspected recruiters and sympathizers of the international terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are seeking refuge.
Director Oscar Albayalde, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), said they are not discounting the possibility that some members of the Maute Group who fled Marawi City might have been able to sneak to some Muslim enclaves in Metro Manila.
This was further bolstered with the arrest of a suspected member of the Maute Group last week.
“This is why we are not lowering the alert level here in Metro Manila. We are still on full alert because we do not want terror activities here,” said Albayalde.
Part of the measures, he said, is the constant monitoring of Moslem areas where suspected ISIS sympathizers may be in hiding or even recruiting new members.
But he was quick to clarify that their move does not necessarily translate to high suspicions that all of the Moslem communities in Metro Manila are coddling terrorists.
He said that there are only a few of them, mostly large Moslem communities, where the suspected terrorists are seeking refuge.
It was learned that there are at least 70 Moslem enclaves in Metro Manila and three of the large communities are in Quiapo, Manila; Maharlika Village in Taguig City; and Barangay Culiat in Quezon City.
“Leaders of these Moslem communities are very cooperative. They themselves do not want their names and their communities to be tarnished and they even vow to cooperate with the authorities in locating and identifying suspected terrorists hiding in their areas,” said Albayalde.
In fact, he said some of the arrests made in the past against suspected terrorists were offshoots of the cooperation of the Moslem leaders.
Following the confirmation of intelligence reports that some of those who fought for the Maute Group were able to escape from Marawi and that some of them are possibly in Metro Manila, the NCRPO has intensified the coordination with various intelligence units and beefed up the cooperation with Moslem leaders in Metro Manila.
“We are pro-active on our approach on this matter. It should not be reactive that is why we are on constant monitoring,” said Albayalde.
It was recalled that the PNP leadership has confirmed that groups identified with the Maute and ISIS have been recruiting in some parts of Mindanao.
But Albayalde stressed that this should not be a cause for alarm since the government has been on alert against terror groups.
The official also said that investigation is also ongoing on the supposed leaked police memo posted on Facebook about terror plots.
The police memo was already branded as fake by officials of the Northern Mindanao regional police where the document had supposedly originated