'Marawi part 2' possible in major Mindanao cities – Dela Rosa

MANILA, Philippines – Just 4 months after Philippine authorities quelled the Marawi siege, police are already preparing for the possibility of a "part 2," and according to top cop Ronald dela Rosa, major Mindanao cities could be at risk.

"All the major, key cities in Mindanao are candidates to become Marawi part 2," the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief said in a press conference on Monday, February 26, responding to a reporter's question on how he would evaluate the threat of terrorism in the country.

To address this, Dela Rosa said, PNP Director for Operations Camilo Cascolan will hold simulation exercises with cops nationwide to prepare them for terror attacks.

"It is ongoing in Davao and it will be replicated in other key cities in Mindanao to ensure no repeat of the Marawi siege," Dela Rosa said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The PNP chief explained that Mindanao is the top region for possible attacks since its people are most vulnerable to recruitment by extremist groups. (READ: I met a former Maute soldier. He's a child.)

"Sa'n ba sila kukuha ng puwersa? So, magre-recruit sila para magkaro'n ng puwersa then 'pag enough na ang force nila to mount another siege then baka gagawa sila ng another Marawi," Dela Rosa said.

(Where will they gain strength? So, they will recruit to beef up their forces then if they have enough to mount another siege, they might pull another Marawi.)

Dela Rosa then called for calm, reiterating that authorities are exhausting all means to prevent terrorism.

Staging another attack like the one in Marawi City, he added, would need intense preparation, and thus would take time.

"It will take some time. [A] large-scale attack like Marawi will take months or years [to plan]," the top cop said. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.