MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday, January 9, cited public safety in defending its decision to warn the public about an uncovered terror plot during the Feast of the Black Nazarene, and its request for telecommunications firms to suspend its services in the procession area.
Responding to questions, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a news briefing that as far as the government is concerned, the threat of a terror attack during the festivity was considered “credible enough for the President himself to come out and to warn the public about it.”
“The President felt that it was more imperative for him to come out and warn the public. As he mentioned yesterday, it behooved us to make the warning,” she said.
Rappler has reported that the decision to warn the public about the threat was based on unverified information.
Valte said that Mr. Aquino was only carrying out his “duty to warn the public” based on the information that he had received on Sunday.
Valte said the government does not view the President’s disclosure as premature, even if done even before arrests could be made.
“At this point, we feel that it’s not premature. It’s an additional security measure. But, of course, we’re not tipping our hand entirely,” Valte said.
She said that the temporary interruption of mobile phone services in the area covered by the procession was also an additional security measure “and is necessary for us to ensure that nothing untoward will happen during the period of the procession and the celebration.”
Asked if the government considered losses incurred by the telecommunication companies that heeded the government request, Valte said, “As holders of a franchise, the public safety is paramount.”
She said that based on the government’s request, the disruption in mobile phone services was to cover the procession route and the duration of the event. – Rappler.com