Cagayan de Oro to form security unit resembling Task Force Davao
LANAO DEL NORTE, Philippines – Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno on Tuesday, September 6, created the city’s own “homeland security department” – a group that would serve in the same vein as Task Force Davao – following a closed-door meeting with state security sectors on Monday, September 5.
The security meeting was attended by the Army's 4th Infantry Division, the Cagayan de Oro City police force, and other state security, and aimed to harmonize public safety and security matters.
Neophyte city councilor Romeo Calizo, a decorated retired army colonel, will lead a technical working group that is meant to improve collaboration on security matters.
"Every resource, all the resources that we have they can use. What we will do is help harmonize and build team effort. It's so difficult to talk to each other only in cases of emergency. We should begin very earlier," Moreno said.
He added that the group will not be a short-lived task force. Instead, it will be an institutionalized department of the city hall with the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) and the Roads and Traffic Administration (RTA) integrated into the security sector.
Once activated after the submission of the technical working group, the new department would resemble Task Force Davao, according to Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, 4th Infantry Division spokesperson.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier declared a state of lawlessness after the deadly Davao City blast which killed 14 people and injured dozens.
Cagayan de Oro has also had its fair share of bombings, with the most recent being the July 26, 2013 bombing in Rosario Arcade in Lim Ket Kai Complex. That bombing killed 8 people and wounded 46 others.
On October 11, 2012, two people were killed and two cops were injured when a bomb exploded at the side of Maxandrea hotel. One bomb – planted underneath a GMA-7 pickup parked outside the hotel – was defused by the Explosive Ordnance Division of the Cagayan de Oro City Police.
"Every corner in this world is very vulnerable to threats. You hope for the best but you prepare for the worst. Security has to be focused, you look at every lead and all the things that could possibly happen and our city is not spared with that," Moreno said.
The bombing in Lim Ket Kai in 2013 was attributed to Khilafa Islamiyah Mindanao, and one Usman Hapids alias Man-Man was charged with multiple murders.
There were also reports that the bombing suspect of Lim Ket Kai mall was Ren-ren Dongon, brother-in-law of Malaysian Zulkifli Bin Hir, also known as Marwan. Marwan was one of Southeast Asia's most wanted terrorists and was also the subject of police operation Exodus where 44 Special Action Force commandos were killed in January 25, 2015 in Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
More checkpoints, army to secure city
Under the state of lawlessness, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is directed to conduct law enforcement operations which are normally done by its civilian counterpart – the Philippine National Police (PNP). (READ: State of nat'l emergency: More police, military in malls, train stations)
Martinez said what they can do is provide manpower and logistics support for the security of the city.
He added that the army will be deploying units from the Headquarters Service Support Battalion for law enforcement operations such as checkpoints.
Martinez said they are still waiting for the final output of the technical working group, but noted they already deployed army personnel.
Since Duterte's declaration, the PNP also deployed more police to public places and set up checkpoints across Northern Mindanao especially in Cagayan de Oro, the hub of the region.
"The public is advised to remain calm but extra vigilant for suspicious persons and packages. But rest assured that the police and armed forces are taking various measures to tighten security and ensure public safety within the region," said Northern Mindanao police regional director Chief Superintendent Noel Constantino.
Moreno said terrorism aims to sow fear in the public.
"I would not be happy announcing that there is a threat, there are information that should not be openly discussed because it may frighten the public. We have to be responsible... Terrorism aims to sow fear and we won't let that happen," he said.
The mayor added that soldiers do not want to cause "undue apprehension."
"You know, many would be then saying that we are being militarized. They are here to help, but they are just also cautious that their presence would not be taken as Cagayan de Oro is being militarized," he said. – Rappler.com