President Benigno Aquino III and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Composite Image
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – No less than President Aquino himself called up Mayor Rodrigo Duterte the other night to discuss a potential terrorist threat in the south reportedly coming from a militant bomber initially thought to be dead but who is actually still alive.
Duterte said the President was particularly concerned about the threat posed by Abdul Basit Usman that he himself made the call instead of just delegating it to his security officials.
Duterte though refused to give details of his conversation with the President.
Usman, who has links with the Abu Sayyaf, is a bomb-making expert. The intelligence community said Usman poses a big threat to security in the south.
Usman was reported to have been killed by an American drone attack near the South and North Waziristan tribal regions in the Afghanistan border on Jan. 4, 2010.
Usman, who has a $1-million bounty, is considered by US authorities to be a threat to US and Filipino citizens and interests.
The militant, believed to have orchestrated several bombings, is reportedly training Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters bandits on bomb-making.
Aquino’s call prompted Duterte to call for an emergency command conference of all police and military units in the city to tackle the terrorist threat.
“I have ordered both police and military units here to heighten the security alert and take all measures to thwart any such threats,” Duterte said.
He also ordered the police and the Army-led Task Force Davao to monitor the movements of people and vehicles getting in and out of the city.
He added that more security personnel will be deployed and more checkpoints will be put up in strategic areas in the city.