PNP assures no threats imminent as Christmas approaches

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(File photo) PNP-NCRPO Chief Director Oscar Albayalde

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 28) — A top police official said Metro Manila remains safe as Christmas draws near.

In a hearing on government agencies' traffic and security plans for the holidays, Quezon City 2nd District Representative Winston Castelo asked Police National Capital Region Police Office (PNP-NCRPO) Chief Director Oscar Albayalde whether there were any security risks present in the metro.

Castelo said there had been reports of Maute relatives and supporters in Metro Manila and they would try to sow terror in the area.

Albayalde stressed because of their coordination with other intelligence units, Metro Manila "is still safe."

"We were able to arrest supporters of Maute, we were able to arrest suspected ASG during the ASEAN in Culiat, Quezon City. So this indicates meron naman talagang [there really are]….we cannot deny anymore," he said.

Albayalde said there were indications of Maute supporters in Metro Manila because of recent arrests, however they have not found evidence of Maute relatives who were engaged in illegal activities.

Albayalde added Maute relatives have been in Metro Manila since before the Marawi siege, however most of them are legitimate entrepreneurs.

"Halos lahat naman po sa kanila ay legitimate businessmen. At wala naman po tayong nakita na ginagawa nilang hindi maganda. They've been here for so many years already," said Albayalde.

[Translation: Almost all of them are legitimate businessmen. And we have not seen them do anything wrong. They've been here for so many years already.]

Rep. Edward Vera Perez Maceda of the 4th District of Manila asked what his city's status was in terms of safety.

Albayalde said because of the support of the Muslim community, there was nothing to fear.

RELATED: Two dead, 6 injured in Quiapo explosions

"I think we have the full support of the Muslim community there, especially po doon sa Quiapo. After nung blast sa Quiapo, we met them, and they pledged their support for us and vowed they will not tolerate yung mga pagtatago ng mga [the hiding of] extremists," he said.

RELATED: Police arrest suspect in April 28 Quiapo blast

Albayalde said the police visibility would be increased in malls, the Metro Rail Transit (MRT), and Light Railway Transit (LRT) stations through the setting up of police assistance desks to beef up security during the holidays.

Albayalde said the NCRPO will also secure churches and all open markets especially Quiapo, Divisoria, and Baclaran during the holiday season.

"We increased our personnel and also put visibility patrols there, and of course police assistance desks," said Albayalde.

He said the police security forces will be augmented by members of the Armed Fores of the Philippines (AFP) coming from the Joint Task Force.