General Andres Centino, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), assured the public on Saturday, Feb. 19, that the military is on top of the security situation following the report of the Philippine National Police (PNP) about an alleged terror plot by Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, in the Philippines.
“Of course, tuloy-tuloy naman ang monitoring natin. Wala naman tayong tigil dyan sa pagbantay pero sa ngayon, there is nothing to worry about (Of course, we are continuously monitoring that. Our security operations are relentless and right now, there is nothing to worry about),” Centino said in an interview with reporters at Fort del Pilar in Baguio City after the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) alumni homecoming.
Centino admitted that they have not received any intelligence information about the supposed Hamas terror plot although he said the military has already coordinated with the PNP for its verification.
“We have already coordinated with the PNP. Galing din sa kanila ‘yong information (The information came from them),” the AFP Chief said.
“On our part, we have no confirmation as to that regard,” he stated.
Last Tuesday, Police Brig. Gen. Neil Alinsangan, chief of the PNP Intelligence Group, said his men had foiled a terror plot being hatched by Hamas by allegedly recruiting Filipinos to carry out a series of attacks against Israelis in the Philippines.
He said a Hamas operative identified as Fares al Shikli alias “Bashir” was supposedly leading the recruitment of locals who will be used in the terror attack in exchange of money.
But Hamas has denied that they were planning to launch a terror attack against Israelis in the Philippines.
In a report by Shebab, a Palestinian and Hamas-affiliated news agency, it said that Hamas has a declared policy of “limiting its conflict with the Israeli occupation within the occupied Palestinian territories, and not to transfer it to any Arab or foreign lands.”
The Israeli-Palestinian crisis, a decades-long conflict that started in the 1960s due to sovereignty issues, suddenly escalated in 2021 after a series of protests that prompted rocket attacks from Gaza and airstrikes by Israel.
It was not the first time that security forces received information about a possible terror plot by Hamas in the Philippines.
In January 2018, police arrested an Iraqi chemist who was described as “knowledgeable on explosives and has close ties with militant extremist movements in the Middle East” because of his expired visa.
Taha Mohamed Al-Jabouria was identified by the police as a rocket technology consultant for Hamas, who holds a master’s degree in explosives technology in Belgrade University in Yugoslavia and “responsible for improving the rocket technology of Hamas.”