Coast Guard says waters safe after Japan terrorist warning

THE PHILIPPINE Coast Guard on Wednesday said the country’s waters were secure, after an intelligence report about a possible terror attack in the country and other Southeast Asian nations.

In a statement, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said it saw no reason to be alarmed by the Japanese government’s warning to its citizens of potential suicide bombings in the Philippines.

Coast Guard Commandant Vice Admiral Leopoldo Laroya said district commanders across the country have always been on intensified border protection and 24/7 seaborne patrol operations.

“Rest assured that our men and women will not put their guards down and will continue to be vigilant in conducting precautionary measures for public safety,” he said.

Mr. Laroya said Coast Guard intelligence officers and personnel were coordinating with the National Intelligence Committee, Anti-Terrorism Council, Armed Forces and police to implement a whole-of-nation approach on national security.

He called on the public to be vigilant and to report suspicious persons or activities in seaports, harbors and coastal communities for immediate action.

Japan has urged its citizens to avoid crowds, religious sites and western-owned establishments in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar given risks of suicide bombings, according to the Associated Press.

The Coast Guard said it was coordinating with the military and police to deter potential terror attacks. In a tweet, military spokesman Ramon P. Zagala said security reports were being validated. 

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines takes seriously all received reports that pertain to security matters, especially on terrorism,” he added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), military and police said they had not received any reports about the threat.

On Tuesday, the Japanese Embassy in Manila said it could not give further details of the warning issued by its government.

“We issued a warning to alert Japanese people residing in some Southeast Asian countries, but we cannot disclose the source,” it said.

Japan issued the warning days after the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States and after the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan following the pullout of US and foreign troops.

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s immediate takeover of the country is the biggest boost to the global jihadist movement and al Qaeda, whose terrorist attacks killed almost 3,000 Americans, since 9/11.

Indonesia, which has been hit by terror attacks in previous years, has been conducting mass arrests of alleged members of Islamic extremist groups, according to the South China Morning Post.

It has arrested more than 120 suspected members of the al Qaeda-linked Southeast Asian terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah and detained members of Islamic State-inspired group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah.

Four years ago, the Islamic State-linked Maute group attacked Marawi City in southern Philippines in a months-long siege where more than a thousand people died. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza