Amid reports that a communist group has placed President Rodrigo Duterte on its hit list, the Presidential Security Group (PSG) on Wednesday said its men are ready to protect the Chief Executive from all forms of threat to his life.
Presidential Security Group (PSG) Commander, Brig. Gen. Jose Eriel Niembra made this remark after National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said he received information that the President is on the hit list of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
“We expect that the President is number one on their list. As to preparations and hardening up of security procedures, I think amin nalang ‘yun (we’ll keep it to ourselves) but rest assured we’re doing something to protect the President,” Niembra told reporters in a media interview in Malacañang.
The CPP, which is set to commemorate its 51st founding anniversary on December 26, marks the occasion with attacks against the police and military carried out by its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).
Niembra said receiving information about alleged threats was not new, especially because of the President’s tough stance against terrorism, illegal drugs, and other crimes.
“Meron kaming natanggap na information na ganyan. Actually, matagal na (We have received information long ago) that the President is one of the top priority targets not only of NPA but also of drug lords, the syndicate groups,” Niembra said.
“Being the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces should be the number one target every day of the year,” he added.
He said that with or without reported threats, it was the mission of the PSG to “see to it that we have a living President day by day.”
“Of course, we take it seriously kasi (because) it’s not a joking matter because it’s the life of the President and the survival of the country,” Niembra said.
Both police and military intensified intelligence monitoring and maximize defense posture in anticipation of attacks.
Niembra has no word whether the President would proceed with his annual Christmas gift-giving activity at their ancestral residence in Barangay Bangkal, Davao City.
However, he assured that the President “knows how to handle himself” and will heed the security protocol of the PSG.
“Alam naman niya kung hanggang saan yung (He knows his) boundary nung puwede niya gawin. Minsan sumusobra, minsan sumusunod (on what he is allowed to do. Sometimes he steps over his boundary, sometimes he follows),” Niembra said.
“It’s a matter of advising him actually which is critical and which is not,” he added.
Duterte is expected to spend Christmas break with his family in his hometown, Davao City after the scheduled first presidential silent drill competition on Friday (Dec. 20), he said.
Meanwhile, Niembra said the President will not be allowed to ride his motorbike during the Christmas break in his hometown.
He said the President will only be given the green light to use his motorbike within the PSG compound in Malacañan Palace.
“Kung sa loob lang ng PSG puwede (He can do so within the PSG compound), but if he goes out, I think we should advise him but in a secured or controlled area,” he said.
The President, however, expressed willingness to drive around Metro Manila.
“In recent days, dito lang po sa loob ng (he only drives within the compound of) PSG. But he has a plan to go around Metro Manila in a motorcycle. I don’t agree, actually,” Niembra said.
Earlier, Duterte joked about wanting to receive a new motorbike for Christmas but went on to say his only wish is for the Philippines and the Filipinos.
Despite figuring in a minor motorbike incident at the PSG compound on October 16, Duterte has repeatedly said he would keep riding motorbikes until his last breath. (PNA)