CEBU, Philippines – In time for the Cebu City’s hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting starting today, a 30-member team of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) has been assigned here.
City Councilor David Tumulak, deputy mayor on police matters, welcomed the arrival of the special force last Wednesday.
“Gidawat nato sila kay advantage ni for us nga naa tay special forces nga nagbantay sa city,” Tumulak said, saying that the SAF will be assigned in the city for good.
Finally, he said he is happy that the PNP has considered deploying members of SAF in Cebu city, which is one of the biggest cities in the country. For now, he is looking for a barracks to place the SAF members during their stay here.
“Naa pa intawn sila sa firing range sa Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) karon maong nangita gyod ta og kabalhinan nila,” he said.
As for the implication of their presence, Tumulak said it is an added measure to keep the peace and order in the city.
He said he has yet to discuss with the mayor if the city will extend allowances to them.
“In case dunay mga major alarms that needs specialization like urban warfare, ang atong SAF ang more knowledgeable ana gyud,” he added.
He said the SAF members are an additional security force of the CCPO. As of now, there are over a thousand policemen assigned in the city.
He said some of the SAF members were also asked to train the new police recruits in Sibonga for now.
As for the ASEAN meeting, Tumulak said the augmentation from the national government has helped in strengthening police visibility in the streets.
The ASEAN meetings will start today until July 7.
Tumulak said at least 143 participants from Hong Kong, European Union, Vietnam, Canada, United States, China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, Korea, Malaysia, Brunei, and Philippines are joining the weeklong affair.
He said the city’s police, regional and national security forces are in place at the hotels where the participants are staying.
He said the ASEAN meeting participants will also be going around the city and the province to visit different tourist spots on July 8.
At the Capitol, strict security at the entrances and exits is currently implemented to ensure safety of the place, said Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale.
She said that she does not want to go easy on reports that there are rebels allegedly planning to attack key areas in Cebu, including the Capitol.
Magpale added that she instructed Roberto “Bobby” Legaspi, head of the Civil Security of the Capitol, to increase security presence around Capitol, following previous reports that ISIS-influenced Maute group took over the City Hall in Marawi City.
“I told Bobby to secure the area. Not only (the) resorts, (the) buildings, (but) including the Capitol,” Magpale added.
The Maute group also attacked the Capitol of Lanao del Sur.
“Remember, pag-abot sa Marawi, ang una nilang gihimo was to capture the City Hall. Ang cue ba ngadto, mao siya ang akong gitan-aw, simbako, mo-raise unya sa (ISIS) flag dinha,” Magpale said.
The tighter security imposed at the Capitol will last until next week, just in time for the ASEAN meetings.
She said that Cebu is an island and anyone, including the militants and terrorists, can enter anywhere.
“Kita man gud dinhi, vulnerable ta kay isla man ta dinhi. Makadunggo ra man gud sila everywhere. Kining ato, kung lang gyud ni, we’re just being vigilant,” Magpale said.
She appreciated that security is in place and that Cebuanos are aware and vigilant about what is happening in their surroundings.
“Lipay kaayo ko nga ingon ani ka vigilant ang Sugbu,”Magpale added. — Jean Marvette A. Demecillo, Christell Fatima M. Tutud (FREEMAN)