A lawmaker on Wednesday said the reports of a possible involvement of a Filipino and a foreign national in the deadly suicide bombing attack in Sulu were enough grounds for the government to come up with more drastic measures to counter similar attacks in the future.
Apart from amending the provisions of the Human Security Act to give it more teeth against terrorism, Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles said next year’s national budget should include allotments to strengthen the country’s border security.
He made the statement even as Army Chief Macairog Alberto met with Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz to exchange views on counter-terrorism in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City on Tuesday.
Harpaz’s made his courtesy call following the Counter-Terrorism Trainers Training between the Philippine Army and the Israel Defense Forces in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija from Monday to Wednesday.
Nograles said the country’s archipelagic nature had made it very difficult to secure its border, and this was aggravated by the fact that the Bureau of Immigration and the Transport department were far behind in the use of deterrent technologies such as biometric and face-recognition surveillance systems.
“Terrorists can go in and out of the country even by using our airports and seaports because we do not have the ability to automatically cross-match the people coming in and out of the country using the database of terrorists and international criminals,” Nograles said.
“I think that this is the best time to invest on these deterrent technologies because we have a leadership that is really all-out in the war against terrorism.”
Aside from the equipment, Nograles said, the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines should be given extra powers through an amended Human Security Act in tracking down and identifying terrorists.
He said the reports indicating that one of the two suicide bombers who attacked an Army Command Post in Sulu might be a Filipino should be a cause of concern among government security officials as that could indicate emergence of locally-grown suicide bombers.
“Subject to DNA confirmation, Western Mindanao Command reported that a 23-year-old Filipino named Norman Lasuca was one of the two suicide bombers that attacked the command post of the Army’s 1st Brigade Combat Team in Tanjung in Indanan, Sulu, Nograles said.
“This event should prompt government security officials to review the existing protocols and tactics in its campaign against terrorism.
“But let us not be too quick to draw conclusions on nationality since prior to this incident, there has been no reported Filipino suicide bomber ever.
Lasuca could just be one of the many local Islamic extremists who have been indoctrinated and trained by foreign terrorists as suicide bombers, and the Indanan incident could be the prelude to more deadlier attacks.
According to reports, one of the suicide bombers detonated himself when he was accosted by Army personnel manning a checkpoint near the command post of the 1st BCT. After the first detonation, the second suicide bomber reportedly rushed inside the command post before setting off the bomb he was carrying.
Eight people were killed while 22 others were injured in the attack that military officials claim to be the first suicide bombing attack involving a Filipino terrorist. The other bomb is yet to be identified but WESMINCOM claim he is Caucasian.
“This confirms my concern on the existence of foreign extremists who are radicalizing and indoctrinating young Muslims to use the most extreme violence including suicide attacks to promote their cause,” Nograles said.
Nograles also noted that on the same day of the Indanan incident, police arrested in Zambales a Kenyan national who allegedly was a member of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab group.
“What is he doing in Zambales? Does this mean that we have foreign terrorists roaming around the country and we don’t even know who and where they are?” Nograles said. With PNA