While saying that terrorist attacks during the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games) are unlikely to happen, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the deployment of military units is part of their precautionary measures to secure the regional multi-sports event.
“Yes, kasama yan sa mga precautionary (measures) namin (It’s part of our precautionary measures). Although we do not see the likelihood pero mabuti na ang nakahanda di ba? (It’s better that we are ready, right?) Kasama ‘yan sa ating ginagawa kaya nga mahigpit yung ating seguridad sa loob ng mga events (It’s part of our efforts that is why security measures in venues are tight),” Lorenzana told reporters Monday.
The defense chief made the remark in the wake of possible terror attacks by followers of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who was neutralized by US forces in northwest Syria last month.
The DND chief said security preparations of both military and police for the SEA Games have been ongoing for quite some time.
“Matagal nang nakahanda yung NCRPO (National Capital Region Police Office) saka yung Joint Task Force National Capital Region ng Armed Forces (of the Philippines) (The NCRPO and the Joint Task Force NCR of the AFP are already prepared long before). Sila ay nagtulungan na magalaw din ang ating ang mga intelligence units ng Armed Forces at saka (They are in coordination so that we can mobilize the intelligence units of the Armed Forces and the) PNP (Philippine National Police),” he added.
On Monday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) formally conducted send-off ceremonies for the soldier-athletes, coaches, and emergency responders who will be participating in the biennial games.
Some of the participating 400 personnel are from the AFP’s regular and reserve units.
“We have all been tirelessly working for this momentous event. We are able to lay down the joint operational guidelines for our troops who will be deployed. Similarly, our soldiers have relentlessly trained for their various events. These are clear indications of our strong will and desire for safe and successful conduct of the Games,” AFP chief-of-staff, Gen. Noel Clement said.
Present during the send-off ceremonies were Lorenzana, other ranking defense and military officials as well as senior officials of the Office of Civil Defense, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center, Philippine National Police, and the SEA Games Organizing Committee.
Also present are the detailed officials, personnel, and volunteers from the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the Bureau of Fire Protection.
“On behalf of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, I offer my heartfelt support to our athlete-soldiers and coaches joining the 30th SEA Games. Show the world your discipline and dedication and may you have God’s favor,” Clement said.
27K cops deployed
PNP spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said a total of 27,440 police officers will be deployed in the venues in Metro Manila, Laguna, Bulacan, Tagaytay, Subic and New Clark City sports complex in Capas, Tarlac for the sporting event.
Some 18,105 policemen will be deployed in Metro Manila, 6,554 in Central Luzon, 1,865 in Southern Luzon and 916 in La Union.
Aside from police officers, 20,000 personnel from different agencies will also be deployed for the augmentation for sports events of SEA Games, PNP officer-in-charge, Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa said.
“We are putting our best foot forward for the regional sporting event among our Asean neighbors. We have started preparation since last year, we continue to rehearse and fine-tune all our systems and procedures for this event, such that we have established full back-up system that will address any unforeseen situation that may arise,” Gamboa told reporters in a press briefing in Camp Crame.
Gamboa also said the PNP contingent will also provide security coverage in the different venues while other PNP units will provide public safety assistance necessary for order maintenance and police services for crowd control, vehicular and pedestrian traffic direction, route, parking and venue security.
Over 10,000 athletes from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Timor Leste, Singapore and Vietnam will participate in 543 sports events.
The 30th SEA Games will open on November 30 at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan and will be held in different venues in Metro Manila, Clark, Pampanga, and Subic, Zambales. It will conclude at the New Clark City on December 11.
The country won its first-ever SEA Games overall championship in 2005, the last time it hosted the biennial meet.
The Philippines also hosted the 1981 and 1991 editions of the SEA Games. (with reports from Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)