ISIS has 'safe havens' in Metro Manila – NCRPO chief

MANILA, Philippines – Members of international terrorist organization Islamic State (ISIS) have found "safe havens" in Metro Manila, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde admitted on Monday, February 19. 

"Alam nila na lalung-lalo na sa Mindanao, could be a safe haven for them. Puwede silang magtago do'n. Dito sa Metro Manila there are several, although 'di natin nilalahat, there are several Muslim enclaves na puwede rin magtago sa kanila," Albayalde told reporters in a chance interview in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

(They know, especially in Mindanao, could be a safe haven for them. They can hide there. Here in Metro Manila, there are several, although we are not generalizing, there are several Muslim enclaves where they can hide in.)

His statement came after they presented in the national police headquarters suspected ISIS leader and recruiter Egyptian Fehmi Lassqued with his Filipina partner Anabel Salipada. They were captured after a search warrant yielded illegal firearms and explosives in their Ermita, Manila apartment.

According to Albayalde, they could not pin down the reason why there are Filipinos who sympathize with the extremist organization so much that they are willing to provide them shelter in the country. (READ: Filipino millennial joins ISIS in Syria)

"Napakadaling magtago, puwede kang makitira sa kanila, puwede kang makisalamuha sa kanila. Napakarami ngang puwedeng magkupkop sa kanila (ISIS members) dito sa Pilipinas," Albayalde said.

(It's very easy to hide, you can live with them, you can mingle with them. There are so many who could take them in here in the Philippines.)

On the upside, Albayalde said they are doing everything to make sure that no terror attacks strike the capital region and the country.

"The cue here is cooperation and coordination with our counterparts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines," Albayalde said.

Albayalde and national police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa confirmed to reporters that they are already monitoring some ISIS sympathizers. They declined to disclose more information.

The predominantly Catholic country's capital region is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, serving as home to over 13 million Filipinos.

According to global terrorism research group Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), the Philippines had the most ISIS-claimed attacks outside Iraq and Syria, the terrorist organization's strongholds. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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