Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cops raise alert level as anti-terror law show on

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY- Cagayan de oro City police head Senior Supt. Aurelio Trampe Jr., starting yesterday (Monday) placed the entire city on heightened security alert under the two-day consultation, dubbed the “Mindanao Peace and Order Summit” to be held at the Pryce Plaza.

“Additional personnel will be deployed in crowded places in the entire city,” said Trampe.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will meet with her Cabinet security cluster also today (Tuesday) in the city in the first leg of public consultations on the Human Security Act (HSA) which is set to take effect on July 15.

Trampe said they expect about 500 participants to attend the two-day consultation.

“We provide 2nd and 3rd layer security to President Arroyo,” said Trampe adding that including route security of the participants and security to all places of activities and billeting hotels.

Expected to attend the summit are leaders and experts in the security field from the government, business, religious and the academe, according to Trampe.

Meanwhile, protest action would also be seen today, as known Arroyo’s critics like Karapatan and other militant groups in the city and Misamis Oriental would stage protest actions during her arrival at the Cagayan de Oro Lumbia airport today.

Militants feared so-called terror suspects would immediately be arrested once the HSA took effect.

But National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales in his capacity as defense department officer in charge yesterday reassured the public the HSA had enough safeguards to prevent its abuse.

“There is nothing to fear really, we only have a few terrorists in the country. The law is there to protect the public, not to harm them,” he said, adding people must commit a terrorist act before they can be arrested.

“The terrorist act has to happen after the affectivity of the law,” he said.

Trampe said they expect militant groups to hold protest actions but this would not hinder the consultation.

He said security had been tightened at the venue and in other areas of the city.

“We are prepared with our civil disturbance management team in case of rallies,” said Trampe.

Gonzales also said the anti-terror law was all set for implementation but its organizational structure was still being finalized.“We’ve already complied with most of the requirements but I’m not sure how complete our organization is because we have to identify members of the office that would implement it,” he said.

City Mayor Constantino Jaraula who was the one welcomed the opening program yesterday said President Arroyo would be arriving at 3 pm today.

Jaraula with Gonzales led the kick-off public consultation with more than 500 participants from the different local government officials in Mindanao including different sectors from all over the region.

Gonzales, however, was mum on what changes would be adopted to fine-tune the HSA which has been heavily criticized even before it could take effect.

Gonzales said the national government is now the one initiating the information campaign on the HSA in partnership with other departments such as Justice and interior and local government in Mindanao.

“The campaign will focus not only on the provisions of the law. The public should see its contextual backdrop,” said Gonzales adding -- the existence of terror cells throughout the region and the world.

According to a government handout, the summit aims to identify problems and difficulties faced in fighting terrorists from the perspectives of the stakeholders and to agree on an action agenda to strengthen local mechanisms for counter-terrorism.


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