PH seeks clarification on Japan's terror warning

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 16, 2021) — The Philippines is seeking clarification from the Japanese government after it warned of possible terror attacks in the country and other Southeast Asian nations.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said they have sent a communication to Japan's defense attaché to the Philippines asking for more details regarding its warning. Manila has yet to receive a response.

"Kailangan malaman natin ang details ng sinasabi nilang attack kasi di naman tayo manghuhula kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng sinasabi nilang attack. Kung ano ang basehan niyan, saan galing ang report, kailan nangyari ang report, sino ang kumuha? So yan ang napakaraming tanong na dapat masagot ng Japan na nag-issue ng warning," Lorenzana said.

[Translation: We need to know details of the possible attack because we cannot predict what that means. What is the basis? Where did the report come from? When did the report happen, and who took it? So that's a lot of questions that Japan needs to answer.]

Lorenzana admitted he was surprised by Japan's security advisory since they did not get any alerts from the United States and other ASEAN member countries.

As far as Philippine security agencies are concerned, there is no imminent terror threat.

READ: No monitored terror threat in PH, officials say after Japan's warning

But they are not letting their guards down to stop any attempt to spread terror.

"Ang sabi naman ng security sector, itong Armed Forces, wala naman silng nakikitang indication na imminent ang attack. Parati pa rin nilang pinapaigting ang kanilang monitoring at intelligence gathering sa mga grupo na nandito sa atin. Alam naman natin kung nasaan sila," Lorenzana said.

[Translation: The security sector, the Armed Forces, said there was no indication that an attack was imminent. They are constantly intensifying their monitoring and intelligence gathering against groups that are here. We know where they are.]

Lorenzana added that joint air and sea patrols continue in the country's porous southern border with Malaysia and Indonesia.

He also said thorough screening of individuals entering Tawi-Tawi and Sulu due to the COVID-19 pandemic has somewhat helped in securing those areas to prevent the entry of foreign terrorists.

Security forces are also closely monitoring local armed groups in Mindanao, especially those that have the capacity to launch attacks like suicide bombings.