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Feb 03rd
Home Columns Unsolicited Advice The Terrorists’ Attack on Mumbai Must Be a Lesson to Manila or Makati and Other Philippine Cities
The Terrorists’ Attack on Mumbai Must Be a Lesson to Manila or Makati and Other Philippine Cities PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Unsolicited Advice
Friday, 05 December 2008 09:11

L ast week’s assault on Mumbai, India, proves again that a determined small group of terrorists, who are willing to die for their cause, can shut down a city of more-than 18-million in population for more-than 60 hours.


The terrorists’ attack on Mumbai is now said to be India’s equivalent of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, DC, by a slightly bigger (19 against the 10 to 15 men in the Indian raid), who were armed only with box cutters. The terrorists in Mumbai were armed only with automatic rifles, grenades and homemade bombs and yet they were able to shut down India’s equivalent of Wall Street.


The Philippine government must examine its capabilities to handle terrorists’ attacks on its cities, especially since it had been unable to defeat and much more bring to the peace table Islamic rebels in Mindanao and communist insurgents in many rural areas of the country. The Philippines is lucky in the sense that the present rebels have not unleashed waves of suicide bombers in Manila or even terrorists who are willing to go on suicide missions in metropolitan areas.


The Philippines is also lucky because since 1994 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States has trained in Southern California 70 groups (and counting) of officers from the Philippine National Police (PNP). The PNP officers come in groups (classes) to undergo what is called the FBI’s Public Safety Officers’ Course. Each PNP class is composed of about 35 to 40 officers (students) and about three to five staff members. The training is also called the FBI’s Executive Course.


But the training that these PNP officers have undergone with the FBI will not be of much help in meeting and overcoming terrorists’ attacks if the PNP are not provided the tools to put into action what they learned from their American tutors. From what we have heard from impeccable sources in the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), there is not enough money to equip the PNP with SWAT teams with the right tools and other equipment like helicopters that are mandatory for rapid-deployment teams on a 24/7 basis. How can helicopters be fielded when even police patrol cars or jeeps (or even naval vessels) presently run out of gasoline and police (and naval) officers have to buy fuel using their own resources or imaginative ways of procuring it?


The PNP and the AFP have been given insignificant budgets for human and electronic intelligence. There is not enough appropriation for intelligence gathering and analysis – again on a 24/7 basis – and the sparse intelligence budget is used for political purposes by the Arroyo Administration, if not diverted or added to pork-barrel expenditures. They lack equipment for state-of-the-art crime laboratories and teams of skilled crime-scene investigators.


The Philippine Police Academy must not only educate police rank-and-file officers and fire-and-safety personnel on terrorism but also certain elements in the private sector. The PNP must train private security guards, seamen and merchant-marine officers, the customs police and building managers and their staff of reporting crime and suspicious activities in their vessels, offices, hotels, restaurants and other premises. The police and the Philippine military must reach out to the people and the private sector and train them to become effective “first preventers” that will aid the PNP’s and/or the AFP’s “first responders.” The whole country must copy what is being done now in many American cities where the police are trying to institutionalize the practice of counter-terrorism by partnering with the private sector, especially the community organizations.


Before it is too late, Filipino legislators and the Office of the President must end their pork-barrel mentality and devote modest government resources to prevent terrorism from happening in the Philippines or fighting it effectively and immediately once a terrorist attack is unleashed. # # #


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Last Updated on Friday, 05 December 2008 09:11

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