POLICE acting chief Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa said the entire police force will be under full alert status beginning tomorrow, October 29, but quickly clarified the PNP has not monitored any threat which may destabilize the country’s commemoration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
Gamboa said all police officers will be on their highest state of readiness for the Undas holiday to ensure the safety and security of Filipinos who are expected to crowd cemeteries all over the country.
Metro Manila is already under heightened alert status effective Sunday, according to National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas.
In an interview over dzXL, Sinas said he tapped 3,640 cops from the five police districts of the metropolis to be on patrol during the long weekend, with some to be fielded in the 118 cemeteries of Metro Manila, while others will man police assistance desks which will be setup in public transport terminals.
“The bulk of our forces will be in the cemeteries. We must have cops in every entrance and exits of these cemeteries aside from the roving ones,” Sinas said.
He said shifting of the cops will be from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Sinas said cops deployed in public transport terminals will be at their posts until Sunday (Nov. 3) when the bulk of passengers are expected to travel back to Metro Manila.
Sinas said the other cops without assignments in cemeteries and public transport terminals will be asked to ensure the safety and security of communities.
Sinas said the NCRPO intelligence unit has not monitored threats from any group during the Undas holiday.
“As of now (Sunday) wala pa (there is none) but I told my men to coordinate with NICA (National Intelligence Coordinating Agency) to be doubly sure,” he said.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac earlier said the PNP will deploy 35,618 cops for the Undas holiday which will be augmented by 99,716 force multipliers such as barangay watchmen, Bantay Bayan volunteers, medical volunteers, and fire and rescue volunteers.
To avoid inconvenience in entering cemeteries, Banac reminded the public not to being prohibited items such as pointed and deadly weapons, alcoholic drinks and illegal drugs, and gambling paraphernalia, among others.
He also advised the public to bring umbrellas to protect themselves from the heat of the sun or rain, and attach identification cards with complete contact details to children.
PDEA chief Aaron Aquino said they will conduct “Undaspot” operations which involves surprise drug testing of drivers of public transport vehicles.
SECURITY OF PORTS
The Philippine Coast Guard was also placed under heightened alert status on Saturday ahead of the twin observances.
PCG spokesman Capt. Armand Balilo said: “We are already on heightened alert, that will be until November 5. This is to ensure the safety and security of the passengers. It’s to ensure that all our units are ready.”
Yesterday, Balilo said PCG officials inspected the ports of Manila and Batangas to check on their readiness to accommodate the expected influx of passengers.
Today, PCG commandant Vice Adm. Joel Garcia is due to send off PCG assets and personnel who will be tapped to perform Undas-related duties.
Garcia has “directed all PCG units to brace up security and safety measures on all ports and ferry terminals this All Saints Day to ensure the orderly operation of sea transport facilities, safety and convenient travel of the seafaring public and even the safety and security of resort visitors.”
Balilo said the PCG “will be actively participating as support agency in ensuring the safety, security, reliability and comfort in riding public during the said religious event.”
The PCG said a total of 72,058 outbound passengers were monitored in various ports throughout the country from 6 a.m. to 12 noon yesterday, a figure that is still considered “normal.”
Balilo said said the PCG expects the influx of passengers in the ports on Wednesday, October 30.
On the other hand, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said students who will be traveling are exempted from paying terminal fees in airports under their jurisdiction even during the holidays.
CAAP Director General Jim Sydiongco said elementary to college students and those who are taking up vocational and technical courses are covered by the exemption.
Students just need to present their valid school identification cards or enrollment registration cards with photos to be exempted from paying the airport terminal fees.
The exemption became effective on August 1.
Meanwhile, the Marikina City government said it is now finalizing its security and traffic rerouting plans for the November 1 and 2 celebrations.
Mayor Marcelino Teodoro has inspected the city’s five cemetaries – the Loyola Memorial Park, Barangka municipal cemetery, Aglipay cemetery, Holy Child cemetery, and Our Lady of the Abandoned (OLA) cemetery to make sure that they are properly cleaned and have undergone repairs.
The mayor has also formed the “Oplan Undas” task force, which is chaired by Councilor Manny Sarmiento and composed of members from Marikina City Police, Office of Public Safety and Security (OPSS), City Health Department, City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office -Marikina Rescue 161, Bureau of Fire Protection, barangay officials and other concerned departments that will be stationed in the five cemeteries.
Teodoro reminded that vendors are prohibited from gathering and selling in streets and sidewalks near the cemeteries to prevent traffic congestion.
Command centers and police assistance desks will be set up at the entrance gate of the cemeteries to ensure the safety of people visiting their departed loved ones. – With Victor Reyes, Rod Lagusad and Christian Oineza