South Cotabato in full alert over bombings

June 30, 2009 9:11 am 

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, June 30 -– Police and military authorities placed the entire province of South Cotabato and the neighboring areas on high alert following the bomb attacks in Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao provinces over the weekend.

Senior Supt. Robert Kiunisala, South Cotabato police director, said they beefed up their presence in various public places and intensified their intelligence monitoring to avert any possible disruption to the upcoming 43rd foundation anniversary celebration of the province and the week-long 10th T’nalak Festival.

“We assigned additional personnel to secure our highways and other vulnerable targets such as the public markets and passenger terminals,” he said.

In preparation for the festivities, Kiunisala said they had earlier deployed uniformed police personnel in various commercial areas and identified venues for the festival, which is slated on July 9-18.

The upcoming festivities, which is considered among the biggest in recent years in terms of preparations, is expected to draw thousands of local and foreign tourists to Koronadal City, the province’s capital city and main festival site.

The provincial government of South Cotabato allocated some P8 million for the conduct of the festivities that will be highlighted by the “Balik South Cotabato” program, a homecoming treat for former residents of the province who are now based abroad.

“All our preparations are now in place. We’re ready to hold the activities so it’s now a matter of waiting for them to unfold,” said South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes.

Despite the terror threats, Fuentes said they have never considered postponing the slated festival activities.

“We cannot allow ourselves to be blackmailed by these (terror) groups. What we’re doing instead is strengthening our security activities even more to avert any of these planned disruptions,” she said.

Capt. Eric Demaala, commander of the Task Group Marbel, said they have augmented the security measures implemented by the Philippine National Police by assigning additional personnel in public areas.

He said their unit has also intensified their foot and mobile patrols within the city, especially the commercial center and festival venues.

Demaala added that they also assigned additional bomb-sniffing K-9s to help avert any planned bomb attacks in the area. (PNA)

DCT/RGR/ave

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