DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday, February 28, conducted in Davao City the first of its series of anti-terror drills, saying the Maute group is believed to be planning to launch a series of attacks on cities in Mindanao.
President Rodrigo Duterte's home city is the biggest city in Mindanao both in terms of land area and population.
“We’ve been receiving reports that they’re now recruiting, but our assessment is they’re incapable of launching another Marawi City-like siege, but still we have to prepare so there is no repeat of the Marawi siege,” PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa, who used to be Davao City's police chief, told reporters.
“Until now they want to retaliate for the setback that they got in Marawi,” he said.
On Monday, Dela Rosa said in Manila that a part 2 of the Marawi siege staged by the Maute group was possible in other cities in Mindanao.
The anti-terror drill, called the Southern Storm, started past 7 am here at Abreeza Mall, where hundreds of officials from the police, military, local government, and other agencies witnessed multiple simulated terrorist acts happening.
A maroon jeepney unloaded in front of the mall actors, who triggered an explosive device made to believe there was a real bombing incident. The mall’s security coordinated with police who checked if the area no longer had any presence of other explosive devices.
Minutes later, they called Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, who on this day was played by actress Jaycee Parker.
The profile of the "suspects" profile could not be known at that point, but half an hour later the acting Davao City police director told the mayor the group was believed to be the Mautes, who held hostage 4 mall goers inside.
It can be recalled the 3 suspects in the Davao City bombing in September 2016 were members of the Maute group, Defense Secretary Delfin said in an earlier report.
Fast forward to May 2017, troops began hunting down members of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups in Marawi City as they reportedly attacked a public hospital while waving the ISIS black flags, signifying their takeover of the area.
The government declared the city liberated from the terrorists by October 2017.
Dela Rosa said the drill was done because agencies need to improve on coordinating which other.
Coordination among agencies, he said, had been the “weakest link” in anti-terror activities. – Rappler.com