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PNP, AFP on heightened alert for Holy Week exodus

April 8, 2009 1:20pm
MANILA, Philippines – As Filipinos head to the provinces during the Holy Week, the Philippine National Police (PNP) had declared a heightened alert status for all its units across the nation.

At the same time, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said its forces from the National Capital Region Command (NCRCom) were already on heightened alert.

PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa said the heightened alert was implemented early Wednesday and would remain in effect depending on their assessment after the Holy Week exodus.

"We have declared since 12 midnight [Tuesday] a heightened alert status for our personnel to ensure the safety, especially [of] the travelers and to help in easing traffic jams in major thoroughfares this Holy Week," Verzosa told reporters at Camp Crame on Wednesday.

For his part, Brig. Gen. Gaudencio Pangilinan, chief of the Armed Forces Civil Relations Service, said: "We are on alert. We maintain a level of alert higher than the normal alert."

Versoza said that more policemen were deployed to intensify police visibility in residential areas because cases of theft and robbery increase during the Holy Week break.

The PNP had likewise designated personnel to ensure security at bus terminals, airports, sea ports, shopping malls, churches and other areas where the Catholic devotees are expected to flock.

Earlier, PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent Nicanor Bartolome said they would be deploying marshals to thwart possible bus robberies.

Other police units like the Maritime Group and the Highway Patrol Group were also mobilized to assist travelers.

Terror threat?

On the other hand, Pangilinan said the military is on alert for possible terror attacks in Metro Manila even as he said there was no “direct threat" of an actual attack.

"There is no known direct threat but it’s safe to assume that there will always be [an] attempt. There are no known direct threat so far in Metro Manila, but it’s safe to assume that there will always be a threat of terrorist attack, particularly in places densely visited," Pangilinan said.

During the observance of the Holy Week several years ago, security officials claimed to have foiled the bombing of a nightspot in Manila's Malate district after the confiscation of chemical materials believed to be ingredients of an explosive.

Members of the radical Rajah Solaiman Movement, a group perceived to be linked to the Abu Sayyaf, were supposedly behind the foiled attack. - GMANews.TV
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