The Joint Task Group Maritime Safety and Security of Negros Oriental has finalized its “Oplan Kontra-Dukot” anti-terror threat contingency plan, following reported potential terrorist and kidnap-for-ransom activities in the Visayas.

          Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo sits as chairman of the task group while Lt. Junior Grade Donna Liza Ramacho, Coast Guard Dumaguete Station commander, was named the task group commander.

          Ramacho said yesterday that “Oplan Kontra-Dukot” (or Oplan Anti-Kidnapping) defines the concepts and operational procedures for the Task Group to ensure maritime safety and security of seafarers, particularly foreign and local tourists, in view of potential terror threat posed by extremist groups such as kidnap-for-ransom and bombings.

          The Task Group met Tuesday to discuss and finalize its contingency plan as well as define the roles of its member-agencies, Ramacho said.

          The Task Group Maritime Safety and Security will be conducting in the coming weeks a simulation exercise of different scenarios on terror attacks, such as kidnap-for-ransom, Ramacho said.

          The SIMEX will test the inter-operability and cooperation of the agencies involved, she said.

          Ramacho added that she has already requested the deployment of a larger Coast Guard vessel to Dumaguete to beef up their current floating assets.

          She assured that while they only have small aluminum boats at the moment, these are fast crafts that can travel at high speed.

          The Philippine Navy has deployed two patrol boats in Negros Oriental while two Philippine Air Force helicopters are also stationed at an Army camp in Tanjay City in the province.

          Ramacho reiterated that Negros Oriental is safe from such terror attacks but she cautions the public against being complacent and being caught off-guard.

          She highlighted that security is everybody’s concern, and the community’s participation, such as information sharing with law enforcement securities and vigilance, especially on the arrival and presence of suspicious persons in their areas, are a big help to authorities.

          The members of the Task Group Maritime Safety and Security are the Coast Guard, the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines comprising the Army, Philippine Navy and the Air Force, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, the Maritime PNP, and the National Bureau of Investigation, among others.

          The Task Group is also considering to involve the Department of Social Welfare and Development as a member for relief and rehabilitation efforts.*JFP