MANILA – President Benigno Aquino III told reporters on Tuesday that he has urged the government of the United Kingdom not to be too heavy-handed on its advisories for travel to the Philippines amid reports of a terrorist threat in Davao City in Mindanao. Aquino said that although caution is called for, the news of a terror threat was based on “raw” information.
“We cannot blame the English government. I assume that they will also seek to be very extra cautious, and of course we will appeal to them na is the amount of caution commensurate to the Red? And at this point in time, we are winning the battle against them but it is still a battle ongoing,” he said.
“There was and there is an ongoing operation against this very long sought-after terrorist with international links. I passed on to Mayor Duterte a raw report — may I emphasize ‘raw.’ I just wanted to make sure that he was given all of the pertinent information to adequately prepare Davao,” he added, in explanation of the phone call he personally made to Davao Mayor Duterte .
“The raw report stated that this terrorist who is a bomb-maker had sent a bomb or a bomb-laden vehicle to Davao City to further a terrorist attack. So the mayor, as head of the Peace and Order Council for Davao City, should be made aware of pertinent information so that he has the wherewithal to adequately prepare his community for it,” he expounded.
The report, being “raw,” therefore still requires further verification.
Aquino said that: “Both the PNP (Philippine National Police) and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) are actively determining the validity of the report and continuing operations against this known terrorist.”
Although the information has yet to be verified fully, Aquino justified the need to inform Duterte about the potential terror threat and terrorist activities of Usman, the terrorist linked to the reports.
“Since this guy was a known terrorist, member of the Abu Sayyaf in the NCR, we have treated it very, very seriously. Was he here to lie low because there are operations against him in his lair in Mindanao? Or was he here to foment some terroristic activities? So at the present time, he is already under custody and we are still following up all of the available leads to ensure the safety of everybody in the Philippines,” Aquino said.
The President also said that there is a possibility that the threat in Davao may turn out to be a dud, as he cited a recent operation in Parañaque City.
During the said operation, K-9 units positioned inside the alleged safehouse of the Abu Sayyaf in the city of Parañaque indicated the presence of explosives although none were found after an extensive search. The raid, however, resulted in the arrest of a suspected Abu Sayyaf Group member, .
“We are not discounting any possibility, but we want to err on the side of caution. And that’s why we informed the good mayor that there is such a report and we emphasized it is raw,” Aquino pointed out.