The police and military here in the region and the city have elevated their security measures following the recent bombings in Jolo, Sulu and Zamboanga City this week.
Aside from implementing the “no backpack” policy, reserved for Araw ng Dabaw and Kadayawan festivities, the police leadership and Task Force Davao also deployed more personnel.
Speaking in yesterday’s AFP-PNP press briefing held at the Royal Mandaya hotel, Sr. Insp. Maria Theresita Gaspan, the spokesperson of Davao City Police Office, said all precinct commanders were already directed that all backpacks are banned from places of worship.
The parish priests, imams, and pastors were already informed of this policy. As such, churchgoers are encouraged to just bring their wallets, pouches, and small bags.
The police also implemented security layers, which starts at the gate. They propose that there will only be one entrance to ease the inspection.
Personnel of the DCPO, Task Force Davao, Regional Mobile Force Battalion, police auxiliary and other security forces will be on guard within and surrounding area of the churches.
On Tuesday, a coordinating conference was conducted with the Muslim community to get their commitment to become extra eyes and ears of the law enforcement agencies.
“We are in full alert status since the start of DAVRAA,” she siad. “The more it is strengthened as more security forces are deployed in all places of convergence.”
Chief Insp. Jason Baria, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office XI, they still have to coordinate with the local chief executives in the provinces on extending the no backpack policy.
“We can’t do it alone so we need to tap the local chief executives since they need also to tap security agencies as additional forces,” he said.
Baria said aside from churches, the PNP personnel are also tasked to conduct mobile patrol and foot patrol in malls, other public convergence areas to ensure that the people are safe.
Meanwhile, Col. Ezra Balagtey, the spokesperson of Eastern Mindanao Command, said there is no direct threat in the EastMinCom area.
“Again, our different units in EastMinCom are closely coordinating with our counterparts, particularly the Western Mindanao command to have more information,” Balagtey said.
Baria explained that the full alert status is implemented on unusual incidents like riots, sabotage, terrorism, and protest rallies. This means that uniformed personnel will render additional two hours of duty.
During the heightened alert, the granting of leave of the personnel shall be suspended while those already filed may be recalled back to duty. They will be on duty during weekends and holidays.
Balagtey said soldiers were already recalled back to barracks. “Heightened alert means doing security measures more than the usual security being conducted,” he added.
Archbishop gives advice
Archbishop Romulo Valles announced that all churchgoers are advised against bringing of bags, backpacks, knapsacks, boxes, and cartons inside churches.
“Brothers and sisters, due to the current peace and order situation vis-a-vis threat of violence, please be informed that starting today, all churchgoers, it is not allowed tp bring with you bags, backpacks, knapsacks, boxes and cartons and the like into the church,” Valles said in a statement.
“Only small purses and the like are allowed,” It added.
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