By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) spokesperson, Police Lt. Colonel Ariel Pico, said their units have been placed on “full alert” after law enforcement and military received intelligence suggesting terrorists were planning to target several churches. According to the BCPO official, while they have not received any “credible threat” in Bacolod City as of press time, they are not taking any chances.
“There [has been] a threat since several months ago but it has not yet been fully validated,” he explained.
The BCPO spokesperson said they have since assigned police officers to city churches, particularly the San Sebastian Cathedral. He also said law enforcement has recommended Diocese of Bacolod Bishop Patricio Buzon and parish priests to adopt tighter security protocols. Among the suggestions include requiring churchgoers to sign a logbook, which is the current practice of some churches in Luzon.
Pico also pointed out, “full alert” status was previously declared following last week’s jewelry heist at a local mall, along with the ongoing Vallacar Transit Inc. company dispute.
Earlier, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) received an intelligence memo that two Sri Lankan-nationals with links to the Islamic State (IS) were planning to conduct attacks on institutions IS deemed as ‘crusader churches’ in Luzon. However, the AFP is also expressing doubts regarding the veracity of the report as the information came from a Singapore-based newspaper outlet.
The memo was released days after President Rodrigo Duterte expressed fears of terror attacks by IS in the country./DGB, WDJ