Security still tight at Philippine church despite low threat level

Soldiers remain on guard at Marian shrine a week after alert staus returns to normal to reassure public, military says
Security still tight at Philippine church despite low threat level

Soldiers and policemen continue to guard the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in the northern Philippine town of Manaoag in Pangasinan province. (Photo by Jojo Rinoza) reporter, Pangasinan
August 21, 2019
Security forces remain on guard at a Catholic shrine in the northern Philippines despite authorities lowering a security alert that was issued earlier following a terrorist threat against places of worship.

Policemen and soldiers could still be seen on Aug. 20 at the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Manaoag, in Pangasinan province despite the alert status "returning to normal."

Col. Redrico Maranan of the police provincial office said in a radio interview that authorities only want to ensure order and peace inside the church.

He said the presence of soldiers and policemen "should give a sense of security to churchgoers."

Philippine authorities had earlier in the month placed the church, a popular pilgrimage site, under tight security following the leak of a military memo citing a "possible terror attack" in several areas in northern Luzon.

The memo noted that a "crusader city" with business centers and "crusader churches" in Northern Luzon were being targeted.

The alert was, however, lowered to normal on Aug. 13.
The military later said it had found no evidence that the so-called Islamic State group planned to attack Catholic churches.

Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the public should continue with their daily routines.

Meanwhile, the military says Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters were behind a blast in Maguindanao province on Aug. 19 that left a soldier wounded.

Major Arvin Encinas, spokesman of the military's Western Mindanao Command, said soldiers were on a combat operation when an improvised bomb went off.

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