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Cops on heightened alert, NLEX ready for Lenten break

MANILA, Philippines — Police units across the country are on heightened alert starting tomorrow, as part of security preparations for the safety of the public during the Holy Week break.

Col. Jean Fajardo, chief information officer of the Philippine National Police, said yesterday the heightened alert status will last until April 1 when vacationers are expected to return to Metro Manila and their home provinces.

It means that 80 percent or 185,600 of the 232,000-strong police force are available for deployment.

Taking no chances to ensure the safety and security of the public, PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said they will deploy at least 52,273 police officers to secure travelers taking advantage of the Holy Week break.

Around 87,000 personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Department of Health, Department of Transportation, Land Transportation Office and other concerned government agencies are also part of the security contingent.

“All systems go, and we are thankful because the PNP has the most personnel here, but all of us are equally responsible for this inter-agency cooperation and coordination,” Acorda said at a news briefing in Camp Crame on Friday.

He said the decision to increase the police contingent from 34,000 to 52,000 does not mean that there are threats to the observance of the Holy Week.

“We just wanted to make sure that everything is covered,” Acorda said.

Data from the PNP showed 12,640 police officers will secure places of worship across the country, while 17,499 are assigned in areas of convergence such as malls, terminals, commercial establishments, recreational parks, resorts and tourist destinations. — Ric Sapnu, Ghio Ong