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What’s ailing our security system?

The military and the police are at it again.

We mean their making loud announcements that these and those major cities in the country are placed in red alert as to their security preparedness status.

This the security forces of government did after the bloody twin bombings in a commercial district in Jolo City, Sulu early Monday morning when no one was expecting it would happen and in that particular unlikely place.

We seem to observe a similar pattern of reaction from the military and the police, of course with the prodding or perhaps request from the civilian authorities, every time these kind of bloody attacks happen. The last that such precaution was resorted to by the government security forces was when the Roman Catholic cathedral also in Jolo was bombed allegedly by a woman terrorist suicide bomber. That incident resulted to the death of some 20 people and the wounding of many others including civilian mass goers and members of the military.

Immediately after that incident in January of 2019 all churches and other places of worship, markets, shopping malls, transportation terminals, and even public parks where many people converge during week-ends and holidays, were heavily guarded. Security checks were undertaken to ensure that no one with the intention to hurt people can get inside and do his criminal or terrorist activity.

Of course, attendant to the implementation of strict security measures were the inconvenience that the public had to suffer. There were the usual negative reactions saying that the government had become paranoid seeing ghosts of its failure to prevent the physical as well as the intellectual entry of extremist ideology that aims to destroy the existing system and religious practices.

Admittedly though, the more stringent the security measures become the more conspicuous the absence of any form of terroristic activities.

Unfortunately, there is also this pattern of complacency after there appears a semblance of inactivity of the terrorist groups or even of organized crime syndicates. The government security forces, and the civilian leadership as well in all levels of governance fall into some kind of a stupor. They relax their guard and possibly totally drop it down.

And we do not think that the security forces do not know that the ideologically and fanatically honed terror advocates are the most patient of human beings in the world. They can afford to lay low even for the longest time just to be able to find the most appropriate occasion to accomplish their deadly tasks. That is why the waiting time, no matter how long, is not a big deal for them. And when they see the best opportunity they are there for the Boom!

Also, battle-tested members of the government security forces know that opportunities to destroy the enemy are not at all times waited. They have to be created. And the work now is even passed on from parents to next generation family members. Even an entire education years are spent as part of the creation of the opportunity and the wait for the right time to execute the job. Remember the hijacker of the plane that nearly crush-landed on the Pentagon building in the United States? He had to take a pilot’s course in order to fulfill his role in the terror group. That is why between the January 2019 Jolo cathedral bombing and the deadly blasts last Monday, August 24, there were several other bombing attacks on military checkpoints or in satellite camps in Sulu and in Basilan.

We suspect that the earlier smaller and less bloody attacks in Basilan and in some municipalities in Sulu were attempts to test the capability of both the police and the military to react. Or perhaps the bombings were sending signals that the terrorist groups are aware of the weakness in the intelligence gathering capability of the military and other law enforcement organizations.
And somehow, such glaring discovery of the security forces’ lack of intelligence monitoring was manifested in that Basilan bombing of an army unit headquarters. Imagine, the supposed woman suicide bomber was freely getting in and out of the camp because she was a childhood friend of one of the military personnel assigned in that unit!

In other words, the elements of that army camp were victims of their own complacent attitude as well as of the dictum that “Familiarity breeds contempt.”

And then there is that character of distrust among members of the different government security organizations. This behavior has resulted in many senseless mistakes in security operations. Again, the latest example is the recent incident of police-military “shootout” that killed four army intelligence operatives.

As claimed by the military their slain comrades were doing monitoring activity of suspected terrorists in Sulu and were hot on the latter’s trail when accosted by the Jolo policemen. The soldiers complied with the policemen’s order to proceed to the nearest police headquarter and had to pass by the station to find parking space.

And according to the military, when their men were able to park their vehicle they were ordered to get out. It was there that the police mowed them down with high powered firearms. Of course the Jolo policemen have their own version of the story. That is, that the military intelligence personnel wanted to escape and that when they disembarked from their vehicle they were armed to the teeth.

Already, a supposed impartial investigation is ongoing and this is done by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Well, it is better that we leave it at that.

Meanwhile, we find it best for the leadership of the military and the police to look into the time line from the period that a particular bombing attack is followed by another. Perhaps they also need to conduct an in-depth study on how soon complacency of their men in the field starts to set in starting from the time an order for a Red Alert security status is imposed.

The result of the study could probably help the government security forces to design some modules that should be automatically shifted to without abandoning the strict protocols, ahead of the potential falling of security operations into a sudden slumber.

That way there will be no more loud booms of detonated bombs from the terrorists to wake the snoozing security systems up.

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