Metro Manila cops ready for groups exploiting Mindanao crisis

Rambo Talabong
Metro Manila cops ready for groups exploiting Mindanao crisis
'We cannot let other groups take advantage of the crisis in Mindanao,' says QC Mayor Herbert Bautista, who chairs the Regional Peace and Order Council

MANILA, Philippines – The Metro Manila Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) agreed on Thursday, May 25, to intensify security efforts in the capital region after President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao following the clashes that erupted in Marawi City on Tuesday, May 23.

Police Officer 2 Sitti Taduyo of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) told Rappler that NCRPO Director Oscar Albayalde informed them that they were already on “full alert.” They were ordered to conduct random checkpoints and security patrols, and increase police deployment and visibility all over the region.

When asked for a memo detailing the instructions, Taduyo said the measures were only “verbally” given and they were immediately instructed to disseminate the orders to city police offices.

Taduyo gave an assurance, nonetheless, that while police are on the lookout to prevent a crisis from erupting, they will continue to perform their “regular duties” such as watching out for crime, assisting citizens, and also conducting TokHang operations.

This came after Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, the chairman of the RPOC, released on Tuesday a call to all cities in the metro to strengthen security efforts.

Bautista explained that increasing security would prevent groups from “[taking] advantage of the crisis in Mindanao.”

However, he withheld naming groups that they are monitoring and held back in expressing his and the council’s opinion on the President’s declaration of martial law. (READ: Estrada urges ‘all-out war’ vs terrorists: ‘It’s about time’)

Bautista called on Metro Manila residents to “stay alert” and immediately report to the police and local officials any “suspicious incident that may compromise the security of the cities and barangays.”

He added that cops will not discriminate against any religion. (READ: Maute Group waves ISIS black flag on Marawi streets)

“We are here to protect all of us, as Filipinos, regardless of religion, whether it be Catholic, Christian, Protestant, Iglesia ni Cristo, or with the Islamic faith,” the Quezon City mayor said.

Last Tuesday, Bautista had also ordered Quezon City police to set up checkpoints and conduct security patrols.

Other local officials have followed suit. Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada ordered security deployment to be doubled in his city, while Makati Mayor Abigail Binay said that while it is “business as usual” in the country’s financial center, security has also been beefed up.

Cities in Mindanao have initiated their own measures in response to the martial law declaration, with Davao City imposing a hold-and-secure security policy after a lockdown, and Iligan City conducting strict security inspections amid the influx of evacuees from Marawi City. (READ: Students walk 32 kilometers to flee Marawi City) – 

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.