Authorities have intensified security in the entire province of Maguindanao in southern Philippines ahead of the first anniversary of the massacre of 58 people on November 23, but a police official said no threats have yet been monitored.
In a phone interview Monday, Chief Superintendent Bienvenido Latag, regional police director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said that over 200 personnel from the ARMM-Regional Mobile Group were deployed to Maguindanao to support local police in the area.
Maguindanao and the entire ARMM is still on full alert status and Latag said police are imposing gun control in the area, where only authorized security personnel in proper uniform are allowed to carry firearms.
Security will also be provided for national and international journalists who are expected to flock to the area on Tuesday to commemorate the massacre.
“As of this time, we have no information from our intelligence unit that there are groups out to harass or sabotage the anniversary, but we are keeping watch,” Latag said.
Latag also said that private armed groups (PAGs) in the province have largely been dismantled and leaders are on the run. Nevertheless, police are still on the hunt for the 112 massacre suspects still at large.
Meanwhile, Latag also said that initial investigation showed that the explosion in Shariff Aguak Sunday morning was not related to the massacre but rather the work of an extortionist.
National police spokesman Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr. also said that investigation showed that the suspect, Sammy Kamsa, targeted vendors in the area from whom he was trying to extort money.