PH military launches elite unit vs terrorist attacks
MANILA, Philippines – Terrorist attacks are a stark reality in a post-9/11 world.
The Philippine military launches an elite unit to respond to chem-bio emergencies.
Carmela Fonbuena reports.
The Philippine military shows off its 4 month old CBRNE unit capable of responding to new threats of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear explosives. It's a unit that the military hopes it will not need to deploy but incidents worldwide show the threat is real.
This 30-man unit is trained to respond to the most demanding emergencies of all-- terrorist attacks. The training and the equipment are expensive. But the plan is to grow this team and deploy them nationwide.
MAJ. GEN. DANILO SERVANDO, ARMY SUPPORT COMMAND: This is just the start of building up our own capability. We have started it and we will improve on it. We will come up with a bigger unit. We will acquire more equipment to improve the capability of this unit.
The Philippines is where top terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed hatched the Bojinka plot the blueprint used in the 9/11 attacks in 2001. In the same year, anthrax, a lethal chemical, was used to lace letters sent to US agencies. Local terrorists bombed a Philippine superferry in 2004 the biggest maritime terrorist attack in history and a bus in Makati on Valentines day in 2005. There's the Tokyo sarin gas attack in the same year. In Syria, thousand of civilians were killed by chemical attacks.
Terrorist threats nowadays include human bombs, liquid bombs, printer bombs, underwear bombs and bombs surgically implanted in the bodies of terrorists. In 2013, there was the Boston Marathon attack that used pressure cooker bombs.
LT. COL. RAMON ZAGALA, MILITARY SPOKESPERSON: In our case, where we actively used this as a means of containment is our deployment in the UN. If you remember we had a threat of a chemical attack in our deployment in Golan Heights that prompted us to have more protection equipment because the threat is real.
Smart Technology, a security company tapped to train the Filipino troops says armed forces worldwide should continue to upgrade as terrorist groups innovate.
KEVIN SALIM, SMART TECHNOLOGY MANAGING DIRECTOR: From a terrorist’s point of view, they are looking for new methods to attack us. When we become more aware on explosive sectors, they start looking at other markets, for example anthrax and other biological and chemical substances as well.
As technology evolves, so does terrorism. The Philippine military says a special crack unit will be one of the many steps in coping with changing threats in a changing world.
Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Quezon City – Rappler.com