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    Posted June 27, 2014 by

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    Presence of terrorist in Phl monitored

    THE governments of the Philippines-Republic of Indonesia (RP-RI) Border Committee on Friday began strengthening intelligence cooperation following reports that terrorists have slipped into their respective territories.
    Also addressing border issues against smugglers, sea pirates and human traffickers, the two countries admitted there remains a potential danger in detecting the entry and exit of terrorists through other points.
    “Terrorists are clever and smart,” Indonesian Consulate General Eko Hartono said in a press conference after the June 25 Border Crossing Committee meeting at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City.
    Hartono emphasized that suspected terrorists do not go through the regular border crossing stations in both the Philippines and Indonesia like in Bongao, Caraga, Tibanban, Maruri and Miangas.
    He stressed it is even difficult to capture them because they unlikely use big boats but small motorboats to hide their identities. And, “they are smart to mingle with the communities,” he said.
    Hartono said terrorists go through alternative path to slip out or into the respective Indonesian and Philippine territories without being detected by authorities. He admitted that it is difficult to effectively monitor them to ensure that they do not bring in guns and ammunition.
    However, he said the commitment of both governments detailed in the border crossing agreement like strengthening of intelligence cooperation and patrol will help detect movement of terrorists and criminals in the sea.
    Hartono also recommended the optimization of all border crossing stations to improve ability to detect movement of terrorists.
    Hartono and Commodore Joel Dela Cruz, Vice-Chairman Philippine Border Committee and Commander, Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao, however, noted they already achieved some results in the border crossing agreement.
    Cruz said the sharing of intelligence information is now working. In fact, they were able to monitor movement of the members of the Jemaah Islamiya (JI), an Indonesia-based clandestine terrorist network formed in the early 1990s, entering Central Mindanao from Indonesia.
    Hartono said it was also in the context of the border crossing agreement that they were able to detect terrorists such as the perpetrators of the Bali bombing. He said that sometime in 2008 and 2001 they were able to detect movements of the “big guys” who were using the routes to slip into the Philippines transiting to Mindanao.
    Cruz said they have been reviewing protocols and how to operationalize the protocols to help monitor movement of the citizens of both countries. He said they have been conducting border patrol operation at the common border areas; intelligence monitoring operations.
    In their meeting, the Border Crossing committee further strengthened mutual commitment for a peaceful resolution of issues arising at the border of the two neighboring countries.
    Meanwhile, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has ordered police and military to effect higher level of alert in the city as President Benigno Aquino III himself relayed intelligence information on the presence of international terrorists in Southern Philippines.
    Duterte hastily convened a command conference on Thursday night at Grand Men Seng Hotel after a phone call from the president instructing him to ensure safety of the people.
    “Do not take it lightly,” Duterte quoted Aquino, who phoned him at about 5:00pm on Thursday (June 26). The mayor echoed the same to police officers, military commanders and concerned agencies, saying "coming from the president is a serious matter."
    While there was no specific details provided to him, Duterte said he wants everybody to do more to ensure that the city remains peaceful and safe.
    According to the mayor, the government is pursuing “persons of interest” or people in the radar of the government security forces.
    Duterte expects more mobile checkpoints and enforce stricter checks at entry and exit points of the city.
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