The al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, based in the southern Philippines, would "disintegrate" now that that terrorist Osama bin Laden is dead, Philippines National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia said this past Wednesday according to a report on GMA News Online, May 04, 2011 edition. Garcia said the Abu Sayyaf, which is allegedly receiving money from al-Qaeda, has lost its "leadership, people, and logistics" to carry out terrorist attacks. (Photo from Flickr)
Garcia also stated that a large number of Abu Sayyaf members have already "lost their ideological beliefs." That said, Garcia reported that the threat level has been raised to "high" in the Zamboanga Peninsula (Region 9), Davao Region (Region 11), the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and Region 12 or SOCCSKSARGEN – an acronym from the region's four provinces and one of its cities: South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City.
Though Garcia is predicting the demise of Abu Sayyaf, he admits some rebel groups in the Philippines have the "capability to undertake terrorist activities." In the National Capital Region, Metro Manila, he said, the threat level has been placed to "moderate." This means that terror groups have the intention to create violence in Metro Manila, but they do not have the "capability."
But a possible attack is "something that we cannot discount," he said, adding that the enhanced threat level in some parts of the Philippines prodded government authorities to increase the visibility of uniformed men. Garcia noted the following: "There is a need to upgrade security measures in various infrastructure. We have to guard embassies, hotels, points of convergence, malls, churches, and the like." Asked how long the government will keep the enhanced security measures, Garcia said, "For as long as it is necessary." He said there is an ongoing assessment on the impact of bin Laden's death – whether al-Qaeda can hold on to its ideologies and whether the second man in the terrorists' network can maintain its force.
The GMA article goes on to report that Garcia cited Jemaah Islamiyah, the al-Qaeda-linked group based in Indonesia, still has a presence in the Philippines. "There is an estimated 20 to 30 Jemaah Islamiyah members in Mindanao… Some of them married some local girls." The government, he said, will continue to tighten its "points of entry" especially that some foreign militants are using "the backdoor" to keep the Philippines as one of its training grounds. On Thursday National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) head Chief Supt. Allan Purisima said police security has been tightened in populous places that could be possible targets of terrorist attacks.
The Sainted Patient Wife and I will be arriving in Manila this coming Monday evening on a domestic flight from Iloilo City. I'm always on my guard in the Metro Manila area, but do not anticipate any problems due to reprisals from terrorist groups bent on avenging bin Laden's death. As always, the main rule-of-thumb I try to follow in Manila is just to use some "common sense." I'm sure we'll be fine, and that we'll enjoy our visit. It will be an adventure, however, always is in Manila.