By JOEY NACALABAN and NITZ ARANCON
POLICE here have raised the alert level over fears of a suicide bomb attack during the city’s fiesta period.
City police director Col. Henry Dampal said “Alert Level 2” security measures would be carried out by the police in the city. The highest alert level is “5.”
Dampal said that as the city’s festivities draw near, the revelers that would participate in the fiesta activities would become targets.
Authorities, he said, are uncertain of the capabilities of terrorists and so, police would step up security measures because they do not want to take chances.
Dampal said the security would be tight in the city to avoid a repeat of the alleged suicide bomb attacks in Indanan, Sulu, this June. It was said to be the first suicide bomb attack carried out by a Filipino bomber.
“Di lang gyud ta mo kompyansa kay duol na ra ba ang kapistahan ug daghang tawo ana sa gawas. Mas maayo nang andam lang gyud ta kanunay,” Dampal said.
He said he would review the security plan and see how it can be improved.
The St. Agustine Metropolitan Cathedral, he said, would be secured especially during the religious gatherings there being organized because of the coming fiesta.
Dampal said citizens can help by providing authorities useful information about people or groups they suspect to be planning to sow terror.
“Terrorists are everywhere and they are just looking for an opportunity to execute their plan, but if all of us are watchful, then I don’t think they would by successful,” Dampal said.
Dampal has ordered vital installations, churches and the malls tightly secured.
The police security forces would be augmented by soldiers from Camp Evangelista.
Maj. Evan Viñas, city police spokesman, said people would not feel any difference between the security measures that would be implemented in the city this month and the security measures during the Feast of St. Augustine year.
Viñas said the security plan has been in effect since Sunday last week.
Just like last year, Viñas said, fiesta revelers would be discouraged from bringing with them backpacks and from using caps or hats and sun glasses, and from using umbrellas.
“Kon dili malikayan nga na-ay magpdala sa mga butang nga atong gidili, ato silang du-olan ug estoryahon ug hinay, ato silang pasabton nga gidili ang pagdala sa mga backpack, pagso-ot ug kalo, sun glasses, alang sa atong secutity,” he said.
Viñas also advised people with disability, pregnant women, and children not to mingle with the fiesta crowd.