MANILA—House of Representatives Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has vowed to beef up security measures through major boosts in military and police spending in next year’s national budget following Tuesday’s firefight between government troops and suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits in Bohol province.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Alvarez cited the need to step up security operations to ward off terror threats in major Philippine tourist spots, including Bohol.
He said the “threat of terrorism and criminality” could have dire consequences on the potential economic success of Philippine tourism, including job creation and income opportunities for Filipinos.
”The Bohol incident highlights the imperative of further reinforcing our security measures to safeguard top tourist destinations in the country from criminal and terrorist threats,” he said.
Alvarez pledged to strengthen the defense capabilities and counterterrorism performance of police and military forces by including investments in the 2018 budget for essential infrastructure and equipment.
”For this purpose, I have requested the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), PNP (Philippine National Police), our Philippine Coast Guard and other law enforcement and national security agencies to determine the essential equipment and infrastructure to accomplish this all-important objective,” he said.
”As Speaker of the House, I will make sure that these will be adequately funded under the 2018 national budget.”
Alvarez also paid tribute to the three soldiers and one policeman killed in a gun battle against suspected Abu Sayyaf members in Inabanga, Bohol on Tuesday, resulting in the neutralization of at least five bandits.
”Our Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police deserve our praise and commendation for their vigilance and bravery in preventing the Abu Sayyaf Group from expanding its criminal operations in unleashing terror in the Visayas, particularly in the prime tourist destination, Bohol,” Alvarez said.
”We salute the three gallant soldiers and a policeman who were killed in the line of duty to protect our people.”
Alvarez further assured that the families of the fallen troops will receive adequate assistance from the government.
”We assure our people that the House of Representatives will do all that is necessary to ensure that our military and law enforcement agencies will always be formidable, fully equipped, and adequately funded to secure our shores against any and all threats, and guarantee the protection not only of our citizenry, but of our visitors as well,” he said.