How the Rizal Day bombings changed the PH's security landscape

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 30) — Most Filipinos look at December 30 as a day to celebrate the heroism and martyrdom of Jose Rizal, but to those tasked with the country's security, it's a time to recall the gruesome terror attacks in Metro Manila where 22 people were killed.

Nineteen years ago, international terror group Jemaah Islamiyah planned and carried out five simultaneous bombings in Metro Manila: at a park, a gasoline station, an airport cargo terminal, inside a bus, and a train station.

Twenty-two people died, and over a hundred were injured.

That incident changed the country's security landscape forever.

Security analyst Rommel Banlaoi said, "(The) investigation of the Rizal Day bombings resulted in the realization that terrorist threats in the Philippines are connected with regional threats in Southeast Asia and at the same time, international threats with Al Qaeda."

Authorities have learned their lessons the hard way, and have since beefed up their deployments during the holiday season.

"Talagang maximum ang deployment, ang nagiging visibility natin para ito po ay makapagdulot ng deterrence at mapigilan natin ang pagtatangka ng mga masasamang loob. At tinitiyak natin sa publiko na ang PNP ay nakabantay this holiday season," said Philippine National Police (PNP) Spokesperson PBGen. Bernard Banac.

[Translation: We enforce maximum deployment, and the visibility at this time is to deter and prevent any attempt by evil forces. We assure everyone the PNP is on alert this holiday season.]

Following the recent bombings in Cotabato City and Maguindanao days before Christmas, authorities assure that they are on top of the situation.

Banlaoi added there have been significant changes since 2000, as there is now a better understanding of the overall terrorist threats based in the country.

"We are better prepared now in terms of intelligence gathering, target hardening and consequence management," he said.

So far, authorities say that there is no imminent security threat in the country in the coming days, however, they ask for the public's vigilance and cooperation to prevent another deadly incident from happening.