AUTHORITIES put the country’s premier airport on full alert after the twin bombings in Quiapo, Manila, which an international security analyst warned could be test runs by the Islamic State for wider attacks during the Ramadan.
Police had earlier played down an IS claim that it was behind the Quiapo bombings, saying they did not have the characteristics of a terrorist attack.
Airport Police Department Gen. Romy Labador said all airport policemen were placed on alert status as additional officers were deployed inside and outside all terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City.
“Security at checkpoints will conduct random rigid inspections on motor vehicles and the public is advised to oblige for their own protection,” Labador said.
However, Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal said the move to place the Naia on full alert was not to alarm the public but to raise awareness of possible incidents that may occur near the airport terminals.
He said the alert status is a proactive measure to ensure safety and security of airport users.
The MIAA official has directed airport baggage screeners to remain vigilant and discerning and to conduct a thorough inspection only when the need calls for it.
“We do not want to cause any alarm,” he said.
He urged the traveling public to check-in earlier to avoid inconvenience.
The Philippine National Police said the twin explosions in Quiapo district in Manila late Saturday that left at least two people dead and six others injured, did not constitute a terror attack and was aimed at a particular imam.
But Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, said the ISIS news agency, Amaq, which claimed that the IS was responsible for the explosions in Quiapo, has never issued false claims.
“Amaq will exaggerate. Amaq will get its numbers and figures wrong. But we have never come to an instance where the ISIS official media has falsely claimed attacks,” he told the ANC news channel.
Gunaranta said the Philippine government must immediately arrest the people responsible for the blasts; improve knowledge on ISIS operations abroad; and work closely with authorities overseas.
In the wake of the Quiapo attacks, the Senate has created an oversight committee on intelligence and confidential funds that would look into how the government uses intelligence and confidential funds and the efficiency of government institutions in providing accurate and timely intelligence information.
Senator Gregorio Honasan, chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security, filed Senate Resolution No. 361 to create the oversight committee to enable the Senate to oversee the efficiency of government institutions in dealing with threats.
“In light of the recent threats to our country’s national security, including disturbance to peace and order by lawless elements, the importance of gathering intelligence information by concerned government agencies cannot be overstated,” said Honasan in his resolution.
Senate President Aqulino Pimentel III, who presided over the session, immediately named the members of the committee—four from the majority group and two from the minority, plus the ex officio members.
The committee will be composed of its chairman, Honasan, and its members—Senators Panfilo Lacson, Richard Gordon, Manny Pacquiao, from the majority bloc; and Deputy Minority Leader Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Senator Francis Pangilinan from the minority group.
The new oversight Committee on Intelligence and Confidential Funds in the 17th Congress willl allow the Senate to continue exercising its oversight functions over the use, disbursement and expenditures of confidential and intelligence funds granted to certain government agencies.
Lacson welcomed the measure, saying there is a need to review the output of military and police intelligence.
Citing the recent twin blasts in Quiapo, Lacson said the more than P5 billion in intelligence funds should be enough to thwart such plots.
In Manila, Mayor Joseph Estrada ordered the city’s social welfare unit to look after the needs of the 20 people who were injured in the Quiapo blasts.
Estrada also ordered Nanet Tanyag, chief of the Manila Department of Social Welfare, to contact the families of the two slain victims and see what assistance the city government could offer them. With Sandy Araneta and PNA
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