PNP boosts airport security amid rising tension in Middle East

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

AVIATION policemen have been ordered to beef up security operations in the country’s airports amid the escalating tension between Iran and the United States (US) following the killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani during a US strike.

"Prior to my assumption, (PNP officer-in-charge Lieutenant General Archie Gamboa) has a directive strengthening security in airports. This is a frontline measure for the (members of the) international community, for all passengers from different countries. This is for them to feel confident and secure in coming to the Philippines," Brigadier General Crizaldo Nieves, newly-appointed PNP Aviation Security Group (Avsegroup) chief, said during the turnover ceremony Tuesday, January 7, 2020.

Crizaldo replaced Brigadier General Arnel Escobal, who was named as the new head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations- Eastern Mindanao.

Nieves said 200 police officers are currently undergoing training. They also plan to recruit an additional of 500 personnel.

Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar, PNP chief of the Directorial Staff, said it is important that the Avsegroup is on alert even though the conflict in the Middle East has no direct effect on the country.

Eleazar noted that the Avsegroup serves as the first line of defense against anything that threatens public safety and security.

He said all airports must be well secured in order to deny sympathizers of Iran any opportunity to infiltrate the country.

No threats that are directly connected to the said conflict have been monitored, but Eleazar said it would be better for the PNP to be on guard and take preemptive actions against possible attacks.

“Our Avsegroup should start coordinating with appropriate government agencies in order to further fortify our defense mechanism from all these threats to safety and security of our people,” Eleazar said.

On Monday, both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said they were strengthening their respective intelligence monitoring particularly against terrorist sympathizers who may carry out attacks to express support for Iran. (SunStar Philippines)