Brussels terror attacks trigger security alert in PH
PRESIDENT Aquino on Tuesday directed Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya to “further strengthen security measures” in the country’s airports, seaports, and mass transport terminals and stations, after several explosions tore through an airport and a metro station in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday morning (3 p.m. in Manila).
In a statement, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Mr. Aquino instructed all concerned agencies “to review and further strengthen security measures, and exert maximum efforts to ensure the safety and convenience of travelers and the riding public.”
Among the security measures already in place at international airports are vehicle checkpoints at entrances, as well as X-ray screening and inspection of all people, luggage and hand-carried items upon entering terminal buildings.
“According to Secretary Abaya, all concerned [transportation and communication] agencies are implementing heightened security vigilance, visibility and [increased] presence of uniformed personnel as deterrence and detection measures,” Coloma said.
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) similarly assured the public of tightened security at the country’s premier airport.
“Airport security forces have been ordered to be extra vigilant in their duty,” said David de Castro, spokesperson for the MIAA general manager, adding that the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) security forces, composed of the Airport Police Department and the Aviation Security Group, will be working closely for surveillance operations.
Government agencies are also gearing up for Holy Week, when hundreds of thousands of people are expected to travel to their home provinces.
No Filipino casualty
But Malacañang has yet to announce if President Aquino will be inspecting seaports, bus terminals, and the international airport today, which he usually does during Holy Week to ensure public safety.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila, meanwhile, said it had not received any report of Filipino casualties in the explosions that rocked the Brussels airport in Belgium.
“So far we have not received a report of any Filipino affected by the explosion,” DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said in a text message Tuesday afternoon.
News reports said 34 people were killed and more than 170 injured when two explosions ripped through the Zaventem Airport in Brussels, while another targeted the city’s metro station, in what had been described as apparent suicide attacks. With reports by Jeannette I. Andrade and Niña P. Calleja