By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star)
MANILA, Philippines – United States Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. is confident that the Philippines is capable of dealing with possible retaliatory attacks from local terrorists sympathetic to slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
“We have full confidence in President Aquino and his national security team. We know that they work every day to protect every one who lives here, most importantly the Filipino people but also those of us who are guests in this country, and we know that they have been vigilant over the last few days, not only at our embassy but also the airports and other ports,” Thomas told reporters yesterday at the House of Representatives.
The US ambassador was at the House for the completion ceremony for the 11th batch of the Congressional Internship Program for Young Mindanao Leaders, a project of the US Agency for International Development.
He said the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001 also killed several Filipinos.
National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia earlier said embassies of countries that support the US global war on terror are likely targets of retaliatory attacks by sympathizers of bin Laden. He said the Philippine National Police has deployed additional security personnel to these embassies.
“The government has nonetheless deemed it prudent to upgrade security for critical infrastructure and other places deemed likely targets of a terrorist attack,” Garcia said, as he assured the public that there is no “immediate threat in Metro Manila.” Commandos belonging to the elite US Navy SEALs killed bin Laden in a daring raid in his hideout in Pakistan last May 1.