PNP admits 'security lapses' in Sultan Kudarat

MANILA, Philippines – Despite the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, attacks still continue to slip past the intelligence and prevention radar of Philippine authorities.

For the latest cases of bombings, the back-to-back blasts in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Senior Superintendent Benigno Durana said that there were glaring security oversights that failed to stop the attacks.

"Obviously, there were gaps in the security measures or security systems that [were] in place during the, right after the declaration of martial law, and especially after the first bombing [on] August 28," Durana said in a Monday, September 3 press briefing in Camp Crame.

On top of martial law, the PNP has also declared full alert status in Mindanao, which requires cops to work overtime for intensified security patrols, checkpoints, and investigations.

Just last week, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said that the government is considering the extension of martial law as one of its options in continuing to secure Mindanao.

Why does this matter? Martial law in Mindanao was precisely declared in May 2017 and extended up until the end of 2018 because security forces expressed the urgency to thwart and prevent threats with military rule.

"The extension of martial law is essential to the overall peace and stability. The rebellion in Marawi continues to persist and we want to stop the spread of the evil ideology of terrorism..." then presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella was quoted as saying after Congress extended military rule all over the island.

Bombings in the past week, however, point to more work needed to be done, as the bombings in Isulan on August 28 and September 2 alone claimed 5 lives and injured dozens more at the provincial capital.

Citing information from the military, Duran said they suspect that a breakaway group from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

What lacked? PNP spokesman Durana said they have already ordered a probe to identify "holes" in the security measures adopted in Sultan Kudarat, which involves sacking Sultan Kudarat and Isulan police chiefs Senior Superintendent Noel Kinazo and Superintendent Celestino Daniel, respectively.

He admitted that one of the mistakes of the members of the security community was the failure of intelligence. Whether it was the frustration in obtaining or dissemination of information that could have prevented the attacks, Durana did not say.

Durana then defended security forces in Mindanao, emphasizing that they are doing what they could to prevent more attacks.

"The PNP and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), and all the members of the security sectors are doing more than enough to prevent these thing[s] from happening again. But then again, we cannot police or we cannot cover every inch of the archipelago," Durana added. – 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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