THE Philippine National Police (PNP) has assured the public that the recent arrest of a Maute terrorist group sub-leader in Tondo, Manila should not be cause for alarm.
In a radio interview on Tuesday, March 6, PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. John Bulalacao allayed fears of any impending terror attacks in Metro Manila, following the arrest of a Maute subleader last week.
Bulalacao told the public that the PNP and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) are “in control of the situation.”
“Pero yung kanyang pagpunta dito sa Manila (But his escape to Manila) should not be a cause for alarm for our citizens dahil ang ating (because our) Philippine National Police naman and [the] AFP are on our toes,” Bulalacao said in an interview with Radyo Inquirer.
Maute sub-leader Nasser Lomondot alias “Muhamad Lomondo,” and his wife Raisalam Lomondot, were arrested at their clothing stall in Recto Avenue on Saturday, March 3.
Bulalacao said that initial reports indicate that Lomondot solely came to Manila to seek refuge from the pressure of martial law in Mindanao.
“And at the same time makapagpahinga dito dahil siguro doon sa naging experience niya na five months na gyera doon sa Marawi (to rest here probably because of his five-month experience of the war in Marawi),” he added.
The Maute terrorist group was responsible for the five-months long attack in Marawi City that started on May 23 last year and led to hundreds of deaths, mostly of terrorists.
PNP Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa on Monday, March 5 said Lomondot has likely not intended “to create havoc” in Metro Manila but only to “lay low.”
“Andito siya sa (He’s been here in) Manila since January this year not to create havoc but to seek refuge,” Dela Rosa told reporters in a briefing.
The PNP chief continued: “Dahil nga naiipit siya sa Mindanao, ‘yung gulo ng Martial Law sa Mindanao, kaya siya lumipad dito sa Manila para may lay low (He’s being pinned by the Martial Law in Mindanao, that’s why he fled to Manila to lay low).”
Dela Rosa, however, did not dismiss the possibility of other Maute members staying in the nation’s capital, pointing out the fact that Lomondot was in the area.
In a separate statement, the AFP said it “may be possible” for the terrorists to stage attacks on certain urban areas.
AFP Spokesman Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin, Jr. noted that there still remnants of the Islamic State (IS)-affiliated groups in Marawi, which “means that they are still terrorizing and may plan another attack.”
Despite this, Datuin assured that the military is keeping a “close watch” on the places where terrorists are likely to stage attacks.
“We are closely guarding, monitoring all the metropolis and the urban areas to make sure that they will not be able to make their way in [the urban areas]insofar [as]their terroristic activities and plans are concerned,” Datuin said.