GOVERNMENT agents arrested a suspected Abu Sayyaf bomber and two of his companions at a Muslim enclave in Quezon City Friday night.
Initial reports identified the suspected terrorist bomber as Abu Bakar Jikiri, an active member of the Abu Sayyaf, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group.
In Vietnam, President Rodrigo Duterte said security forces remain on guard against possible retaliatory attacks by jihadist IS forces, as the country hosts the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit next week.
Speaking to reporters here on Thursday night, Duterte refused to divulge any information on the government’s security preparations, saying only that “the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police are ready to meet the challenge.”
Jikiri was arrested in his hideout in Salam Compound in Barangay Culiat, Quezon City at 5:15 p.m. Agents seized two firearms, including an M203 grenade rifle.
Two of Jakiri’s contacts, known only as Hussein and Sabtain, were also arrested, and all three were being interrogated.
On Thursday, Lisa Sidney Jones, director of the Institute of Policy Analysis and Conflict warned that pro-IS terrorists may bomb several cities, including Manila, in the aftermath of their defeat in Marawi City.
Jones also urged the government to extract information from suspected financiers of the Marawi seige who were arrested.
“I think it’s possible the various components of the IS alliance actually dispersed back to their home territories... I also think there is a chance we’ll see retaliatory bombings in some of the urban centers in the Philippines, maybe including Manila,” she said in a television interview.
Security forces will be placed on the highest security alert at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport during the arrival and departure of world leaders participating in the Asean summit this coming week.
At least seven heads of states, including US President Donald Trump, are expected to arrive at the Naia on board their official aircrafts on Sunday to attend the country’s hosting of 31st ASEAN meeting. Airport officials are also expecting leaders and other government officials from China, India, Brunei, Japan and Singapore.
Manila International Airport Authority manager Eddie Monreal said security personnel at checkpoints leading to the airport would be beefed up, and more bomb-sniffing dogs will be deployed.
He added that heads of security, terminal managers and specially trained policemen would be situated in different strategic areas of the airport to ensure the safety of the arriving dignitaries and the people working at and using the airport.
The MIAA chief said security personnel will strictly inspect the luggage while passengers will undergo rigid body frisking to make sure no firearms or explosives are brought inside the airport undetected.
He appealed to travelers to report any unattended baggage or suspicious persons roaming inside and outside the airport.
National Capital Region Police Office director Oscar Albayalde said 33,000 policemen, including the augmentation force from different regional offices in the country, will also be deployed to provide and maintain security and safety of the delegates, routes, venue and billet during the summit.
“In almost a year of security preparations for the 31st Asean Summit, I believe we have prepared everything, however one thing that we must not forget to include in our preparedness and readiness is prayer and divine intervention,” said Albayalde.
“This undertaking is not just for the police, this is for our nation. This is our chance to show to the world that we are capable to secure the 22 world leaders and their colleagues. Let us do our share,” Albayalde said.
Both the Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air advised their clients to allot sufficient time going to airport to avoid flight delays in anticipation of heavy traffic due to road closures in connection with the summit.
The Metro Manila Development Authority announced earlier that some major streets in the metropolis will experience traffic congestion during the summit.
The MMDA, in its advisory, stated that there will be lockdown on SMX Convention Center in Pasay City from 11 p.m. of Nov. 11 to 12; Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex on Nov. 12 and Roxas Boulevard from Gil Puyat Avenue to P. Burgos on Nov. 13 from 12:01 a.m. until noon.
Heavy traffic is expected in these areas and motorists are advised to take alternate routes.
Asean convoys will be given priority through a stop-and-go traffic scheme that will create delays for other motorists, who will be told to stop for five minutes to let a convoy pass.
On Friday, the wife of the slain leader of Ansar Khalifa Philippines as the Justice Department to dismiss the criminal charges of rebellion and inciting to rebellion filed against her by the National Bureau of Investigation.
Karen Aizha Hamidon, wife of slain AKP leader Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, asked the DOJ to drop the 296 counts of inciting to rebellion charges for lack of evidence.
Hamidon made the plea as Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong concluded on Friday the preliminary investigation on the criminal complaint filed by the NBI. Ong said the case is now submitted for resolution. With Rey E. Requejo