The Army's 3rd Infantry Division is bringing down to the barangay level the creation of the joint anti-terrorism task force, in its bid to further strengthen its monitoring of the possible entry of extremist terror groups in the Visayan region.
Maj. Gen. Jon Aying, 3rd Infantry Division, said yesterday that the populace in the barangay will be the first to be affected, if there is any intrusion of people from other areas, who may want to stage terror activities.
Aying also confirmed the arrival of several Maranao families from Mindanao to Ibajay in Aklan and Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental. But he said they are closely monitoring the evacuees, and some of them are staying with their relatives in the region.
The 3ID is now creating joint task forces in Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Aklan, Antique, Cebu, similar to those now operational in Negros Oriental and Bohol.
It will cascaded down to the city, town, barangay, even to the purok, Aying told the Visayan DAILY STAR.
The joint task force is an inter-agency body, which is headed by the governor of the concerned province, in collaboration with all national government agencies, law enforcement agencies and units.
Last month, the 3ID activated the 1st and 2nd Negros Island Geographical Battalions, that is composed of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units and Armed Forces reservists, in the Negros Island Region.
The 3ID is also strengthening its Ready Reserve Battalion, that is composed of about 500 Army reservists, and Standby Reserve Battalion, for use in Civil Military Operations and disaster-related activities, among other advocacies.
The creation of anti-terrorism task groups in the NIR came in the wake of threats of terrorism, and the recent attempt of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group to expand their operations to the Visayas, after 11 of their members were killed by Army soldiers in Bohol last month.
The 3ID takes charge of the internal security operations in Negros Island Region, Central and Western Visayas, composed of 10 provinces.
As to the information about the alleged plan of terror attack in Midwest Cebu, Aying said they are still validating it.
The occupation of the ISIS-inspired Maute terrorist group of Marawi City, that has already claimed the lives of more than 100 individuals, also caused alarm among the authorities and local officials over possible spillovers in the region.
We cannot discount such possibility. That is really the intent of the Maute terror group and the Abu Sayyaf, Aying admitted. * GPB
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