VISAYAS ‘GENERALLY PEACEFUL’ DESPITE UK TRAVEL BAN
INTER-AGENCY MEETING. Police Regional Office-7 Regional Director Chief Supt. Debold Sinas meets with tourism stakeholders, local officials, and regional government executives in an emergency conference on security and safety relative to the UK travel advisory involving particular areas in Central Visayas. (Photo by John Rey Saavedra)
CEBU CITY — The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Central Command (Centcom) on Wednesday assured that the entire Visayas is “generally peaceful” despite the travel advisory released by the United Kingdom.
In a statement, Centcom chief, Lt. Gen. Noel Clement, said they are maintaining a proactive security stance and are monitoring the Visayas region to quell any attempt to disturb normalcy of life.
Meanwhile, Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, Police Regional Office 7 (Central Visayas) Director, met tourism stakeholders, local officials, and regional government executives at the PRO-7 conference hall and discussed measures to ensure safety in Cebu south, due to the travel ban.
“To all our people in this area and all tourists visiting the Visayas regions, there’s nothing to worry about your safety. I have ordered all our troops, the Army, Navy, and Air Force to closely monitor the maritime waters of the Visayas and all points of entry and exit in the islands of the region in tandem with other law enforcement agencies,” Clement said.
He cited the 2017 records that showed that even during the siege of Marawi City, the number of tourists who visited the three regions in the Visayas still reached 6.3 million, which was higher than the 5.59 million in 2016.
In 2018, tourist counts reached a record high of 6.9 million in the same regions, he added.
Clement said after the Marawi incident, Centcom “redesigned its security posture and ensured full and proactive security measures in the whole region.”
“Record tells us that we have carried out our mandate, especially in providing security blanket to the area. But still, we cannot let our guard down,” the chief of the armed forces in the Visayas said. “We implore the whole nation for vigilance and to work together to disrupt these terror groups in their plans to plant seeds of hatred among us.”
Sinas assured stakeholders and local officials that their local police are capable of responding to any untoward incident.
About five mayors in the south of Cebu and Mandaue attended the emergency meeting called for by Sinas. Col. Noel Baluyan, Task Group Cebu commander, represented the armed forces in the meeting.
Meanwhile, Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) - Police Community Relations chief, Supt. Virgilio Bayon-on told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview that CPPO chief, Senior Supt. Manuel Abrugena ordered the deployment of two companies from the Provincial Mobile Force Company to tourist spots in the southern portion of Cebu province.
The order, he said, was given after the travel ban was issued by the UK government and following the twin explosions at the Cathedral of the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Jolo, Sulu last Sunday.
Two companies of police personnel augmented the current tourist police assigned in different beach resorts in Cebu south, Bayon-on said.
“Beach resorts with high concentration of tourists are secured,” he said.
Shortly after the gruesome incident in Jolo that killed 22 people, mostly churchgoers, and injured scores of civilians, policemen and soldiers, the UK government released an advisory telling its nationals not to travel to Mindanao, Palawan, Siquijor, Dumaguete, and southern Cebu. (PNA)