Around 26,000 police officers will be deployed for the 30th Asean summit and its spin-off meetings between April 26 and 29 in Pasay, according to Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ronald dela Rosa.
“It’s all systems go,” Dela Rosa said. “We are very much prepared for this event.”
No specific threat from Abu Sayyaf had been identified, he said. Ten Abu Sayyaf bandits raided the tourist island of Bohol earlier this month in a failed kidnapping operation, far beyond the group’s normal area of operations.
Asean ministers are currently meeting on Bohol. President Rodrigo Duterte is offering a reward of 1 million pesos (US$20,000) for each of the Abu Sayyaf militants who eluded the authorities in Bohol.
Duterte said the terror plot targeted the Asean meetings in Bohol this month.
“We have been receiving texts saying they were sighted in the mountains,” Dela Rosa said, quoting residents on the possible location of Abu Sayyaf militants.
Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde told the state-run dzRB network that 41,000 uniformed personnel would be deployed tomorrow (Sunday).
Extra officers were being drafted in from surrounding provinces, he added.
Duterte will lead the summit as the Philippines chairs the bloc for the year.
Albayalde added that the police had not received “any report of any imminent danger” related to terrorism.
He also said there was no need to jam mobile phone signals during the meeting.
Delegates for Asean trade meetings toured Bohol this week, unfazed by security warnings.
Travel agents have reported that tourists have cancelled bookings to Bohol after the firefight between government troops and the Abu Sayyaf raiding party in Inabanga.
The US, UK, France and South Korea have issued travel warnings covering Central Visayas, including Bohol, citing kidnapping threats by Abu Sayyaf.
Manila has reassured tourists that despite the Inabanga clash the Philippines “remains a safe place to work, to conduct business, or simply to have fun”.
Picture credit: Wikimedia