The House Committee on Metro Manila Development, chaired by Rep. Winston Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City), in a hearing on Wednesday discussed updates on the peace and order in Metro Manila and the safety measures being taken by the concerned government agencies in the face of the recent bombings in Mindanao.
“The people of Metro Manila are worried…Some of our constituents received text messages about certain bomb threats, and recently in the papers, in the TV stations, radio stations about the security situation in Metro Manila. At the same time, about two weeks ago, Jolo and some other parts of the country were bombed, so we would want to know if these unfortunate events will spill over in Metro Manila,” stated Castelo.
Philippine National Police -National Capital Region Police Office (PNP_NCRPO) Director Guillermo Eleazar assured the panel that Metro Manila is indeed safe. He noted that following the bombing in Jolo, the PNP decided to raise the alert status from heightened alert to full alert.
Eleazar clarified that the full alert status was not caused by the presence of any credible and specific threats in Metro Manila, but in response to have proactive and precautionary measures to avoid the dreaded bombing spill over. “We maximized the mobilization of our resources,” he said.
Eleazar also bared that while the threat assessment calls for a moderate alert status, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) recommended the implementation of a heightened alert status.
However, Eleazar explained that, “To give it an impact, we raised it one notch to full alert. But of course, that was 10 days ago. We are now assessing that since the Jolo bombing is considered to be solved and closed but needs further investigation; we might be reducing or downgrading our full alert status to heightened alert.”
In coordination with other agencies, he said the PNP declared Metro Manila as safe but in full alert status merely for precautionary measures.
Meanwhile, NICA Director Jose Bringas Jr. confirmed that there are certainly no indications that the bombings will spill over to Metro Manila as of now.
Castelo also inquired on the initiatives executed by the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) to guarantee the safety and security of LRT passengers.
LRTA Manager Jimmy Chua noted that the agency has been banning liquids in the LRT, which may be hazardous chemicals that could endanger the public. He explained that this was acted upon the directive of the PNP.
“Of course, it will mean some inconvenience to the riding public, but this is a shared responsibility. I believe that we can sacrifice a little just to be sure that we are all protected,” said Eleazar, as he appealed to Filipinos to be more open-minded to the additional precautionary measures being taken by the concerned agencies.
Rep. Edgar Erice (2nd District, Caloocan City) underscored that the police force should reconsider these prohibitions because the summer months are fast approaching.
During the hearing, Castelo also raised that the State is being accused of committing profiling discrimination against the Muslim community.
To which Eleazar responded, “Even before, we are closely coordinating with [the Muslim] leaders. That close coordination with them has proven some significant breakthrough in our operations…Nakalampas na po tayo dun sa sinasabing profiling discrimination, dahil in my experience as the Director of the Quezon City Police District, most of our operations on which the suspects are Muslim brothers and sisters, sila rin po yung nakatulong sa atin.”
Other House Members who posed their queries were Reps. Bayani Fernando (1st District, Marikina City) and Emi Calixto-Rubiano (Lone District, Pasay City).