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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Zambo still on alert – Col. Casimiro

By Dominic I. Sanchez

ZAMBOANGA CITY – “The city remains on high alert,” declared City Police Director Col. Angelito Casimiro in a press conference Tuesday afternoon amid text messages circulating regarding the entry of a number of groups in the city for a rally.

Col. Casimiro said that checkpoints are set up in key areas and vital installations in the city to preempt any eventualities.

Early Tuesday morning, text messages spread about a supposed peace caravan that will reach Zamboanga City, with some Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members allegedly taking part. However, said caravan led by the civil society group, Mindanao Alliance for Peace, was only able to reach the Tungawan area.

Said group was to air its support to the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law through visits here, including Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces.   

“We reiterate the no permit, no rally, no caravan policy,” said Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar yesterday afternoon. “Zamboanga City is not a part of the ARMM, or the BBL.”

Classes were not suspended

Mayor Climaco-Salazar clarified that classes were not suspended yesterday, “since the situation does not warrant for that action.” In the morning, parents hurriedly fetched their children from school upon receiving such messages. Residents have avoided the city’s main thoroughfares in fear of any eventualities.

According to the mayor, the military and police officials had a dialogue with the group and asked the rally participants to return to their places in Zamboanga Sibugay.

“Some of them were women and children, who wanted to show their support to the BBL,” said Col. Casimiro.

“In a dialogue with the coordinator, we explained that it is not the time for such an activity since the residents may become anxious considering the number of people involved. Maybe in the future,” he said.

“If they want to show support to BBL, let it be in their localities. Let us maintain the status quo,” said Mayor Climaco-Salazar.

The authorities have set up forces in barangay Licomo and other entrance and exit points for additional security. “We will continue with the full alert in the city” said Col. Casimiro.

Stronger police presence

Last Friday (Feb. 6), the City Peace and Order Council (CPOC) with Mayor Beng Climaco met to discuss security concerns in the city, including the presence of threat groups like the Abu Sayyaf and other kidnap-for-ransom groups, as well as measures to maintain the security.

Col. Casimiro shared that there has been “stronger police presence and enhanced police integrated patrol system,” complementing the “strong checkpoints in entrance and exit points”. He has also been regularly conducting a “weekly intelligence infusion” from among the different units in the city police office.

Peace and order is everyone’s concern

On Monday, during the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) 24th founding anniversary, Police Regional Director Gen. Edgar Basbas reiterated the need for intensified community involvement and cooperation with the police to avert any threats to disrupt the city’s peace and order.

“Maintenance of the peace and order is not only the concern of the PNP, it should be everybody’s concern,” Gen. Basbas said. “Let us work together and help each other to maintain the peace in our communities,” he appealed.

Meanwhile, Mayor Climaco-Salazar urged the public to stop circulating unverified text messages, but instead, send them to barangay officials, or contact the police through telephone number 166 or 117. “Please report them so that we can immediately send a team to verify such reports,” she said.