The Presidential spokesperson might have downplayed the US Embassy advisory against travelling to southern Cebu, but adjacent areas like Bohol and Negros Oriental stay on alert.
The advisory issued by the US Embassy warning of terror groups hatching kidnappings in southern Cebu hinted a classified information about the presence of Abu Sayyaf members and other kidnapping groups in adjacent areas.
The travel advisory preceded President Rodrigo Duterteâ€™s statementÂ his administration’s aggressive war on drugs might have pushed criminal groups to shift to kidnapping.
The US Embassy advisory came close to the intelligence report that members of the Abu Sayyaf Group have been spotted in Cebu.
For his part, Lt. Col. Jose Dodjie Belloga, commander of Philippine ArmyÂ 47thÂ Infantry Battalion stationed in Bohol, confirmed having learned of such intelligence report.
The army in Bohol immediately combed the province for any presence of Abu Sayyaf member.
They checked the ports of entry and the coastal areas.
However, there has been no Abu Sayyaf member spotted during the monitoring rounds here, according to Belloga.
The six members of the ASG spotted in Cebu had reportedly returned to Mindanao.
Nevertheless, Belloga said the soldiers in Bohol avoid getting complacent with the peace and order in the province and stay on alert.
This is considering that the State of Lawlessness had been declared for the entire country after the bombing in Davao two months ago.
Just like in the campaign against other crimes, Belloga appeals for the cooperation of the communities in Bohol by reporting presence of suspicious individuals in the neighborhood.
The 47thÂ IB soldiers also complement the police force in the campaign against illegal drugs.
Law enforcers are also aware that crime syndicates tend to sneak into peaceful areas where they believe the community is complacent and security measures are loose.
They always take note of the principle of osmosis in analyzing target areas of crime syndicates.
The soldiers and police personnel also could not take for granted, the accessibility of Bohol for people coming from Mindanao and Cebu and the possible spillover of criminalities from other areas in the country.
The kidnapping threats could be a disruption to the ongoing nationwide crackdown on the illegal drug trade, but Duterte reiterated that the war against drugs will continue to be aggressive rid the country of the narco-political tag.
Even if it involves a trillion-peso annual requirement, Duterte intends to carry on with the aggressive war against drugs and criminality until the end of his term.
The fund requirement includes the costly rehabilitation and medical attention needed by drug dependents though.
Taking on the six kidnapping cases in three weeks time in Binondo alone, the President hinted that big-time drug dealers might have shifted to other crimes to keep their syndicates afloat.