In the wake of the Jakarta attacks claimed by ISIS, President Aquino says in Filipino there’s a credible threat but it’s not specific
MANILA, Philippines (Jan. 15, 2015) — President Benigno Aquino III urged Filipinos to be vigilant a day after the terror attacks in neighboring Indonesia, even as he maintained that there is no imminent threat in the country.
Aquino made the call in a news briefing in Malolos, Bulacan, on Friday, January 15, when asked about government measures in the wake of the Jakarta attacks claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS).
He said he met with the Armed Forces chief General Hernando Irriberi, Philippine National Police chief Ricardo Marquez, and National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia on Thursday, following the attacks.
“Basically wala silang feedback sa akin na merong imminent threat pero walang mawawala sa atin na ipapaalala sa lahat na kailangang tuloy-tuloy ang pagbabantay natin,” Aquino said.
(Basically, they did not give me any feedback that there’s an imminent threat but we have nothing to lose it we remind everyone that we have to continue to be vigilant.)
The President said public vigilance is an essential complement to government efforts to harden possible terrorist targets, so citizens should not lower their guard. He cited the attacks in Paris and Jakarta on soft targets.
“Tayo open society, 100 million ang population natin dito. Pagtutulungan ng gobyerno at ng sambayanan ang magdadala sa atin sa kaligtasan, di ba? Parati tayong nakikiusap, kasama ng hardening of sites, gawin nating aware ang ating mga kababayan. Meron bang mga suspetsosong aali-aligid diyan? Pati packages and bags left unattended,” he said.
(We are an open society, with a population of 100 million. Cooperation between the government and the citizenry will bring us to safety. We are always appealing that with the hardening of sites, public awareness should be heightened against suspicious people, also packages and bags left unattended.)
AFP spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla said on Friday that authorities went on heightened alert since Thursday afternoon as a “pro-active step to ensure ready forces to assist police during contingencies.”
“We haven’t monitored anything of that nature but it’s better to be prepared,” Padilla said.
‘No specific threat’
Aquino admitted there is a “credible threat” but it’s not specific.
“May banta rin sa atin. May credible threat pero talagang tukoy na threat, wala. May general threat? Oo. Hindi naman tayo immune sa nangyayari ngayong problema ng extremism. Pero lahat ng ating mga agencies sa law enforcement, sa intel, talagang nakakatutok sa problemang ito at talagang pinipilit natin na ma-thwart lahat ng potential na problema,” he said.
(There are also threats to us. There’s a credible threat but it’s not specific. Is there a general threat? Yes. We are not immune to the problem of extremism. But all law enforcement agencies, intel, are really focused on this problem and are really working to thwart all potential problems.)
He said dealing with this problem begins with nipping the roots of radicalization, by helping vulnerable Filipinos through livelihood assistance and other social aid.
The President echoed the position of the military that there is no ISIS presence in the country. He said that the Philippines’ intelligence network is keeping a close watch over communities to check if the group’s influence has crept into the country.
He also said that while members of the Abu Sayyaf have been seen on video, circulated in the Internet, pledging allegiance to ISIS, the group has been known to affiliate itself with “popular” terror groups.
“Bago nito…sumali rin doon sa Jema’ah Islamiyah. Ngayon ISIS ang sikat, ISIS naman sila. Bukas pag may bagong grupo, iba na naman ang pangalan nila,” he said.
(Before this, they were linked to Jema’ah Islamiyah. Now that ISIS is more popular, they’re now with ISIS. If there’s a new group tomorrow, they’ll change their name again.)