Terrorism Biggest Threat To Philippines Security
Terrorism has become the biggest threat to the country's security compared to the secessionist and various criminal elements, a government official said. Interior Secretary Angelo Reyes said at a press conference thatterrorism is the No.1 among the threats to the republic since it is "really clear and present."
Angelo Reyes"We've seen (terrorist attacks) in Bali. We have also reports that some of terrorists are probably here so there is clear and present danger of terrorist attack," said Reyes. Dozens of people and over 200 others were injured in the bombing on Saturday night in Bali, Indonesia, which was suspected of being conducted by the Indonesia-based southeastern terrorist network, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Reyes downplayed the reports that two JI terrorists behind the Bali bombings have been trained in the southern Philippine islands of Mindanao. "We don't necessarily believe all reports that come in but we are verifying them." On the current presence of JI operatives in the country, Reyes said: "We cannot prevent them from coming back, but if there are reports on it (JI's return to the Philippines), we will verify it and will run after them again." The JI is being blamed for a number of attacks in Indonesia andthe Philippines, including the Dec. 30, 2000 bombings in Metro Manila. Reyes said that JI terrorists have been dislodged from their training camps in Mindanao as a result of a series of military pursuit operation in 2000. However, a latest military pronouncement indicated that at least 30 to 40 JI militants are still currently operating in the country. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Monday issued an order to form a new national anti-crime task force headed by Reyes to "address heinous crimes, high-profile crimes and other crimes as may be directed by the president." "Part of the reason why we are here is to integrate intelligence collection and monitoring. The recent Bali bombing isa good enough warning that terrorism is with us and will be with us for many years," Reyes said. He was given a "quite short" timetable before the Christmas to improve the peace and order situation in the country. "The instruction of the president is that by Christmas time, weshould have delivered the message that we can have a Philippines wherein the Filipinos can feel safe, and that the criminals are not roaming the streets with impunity," said Reyes. "The timetable is quite short so we have to move fast (so that)by Christmas time we should have our countrymen feeling safe in the streets, in their homes and communities," he added.