PNP launches ‘Southern Storm’ in Davao

DAVAO CITY — The Philippine National Police (PNP) will launch Southern Storm, an interagency security and disaster simulation exercises in Davao City on Wednesday.

The Southern Storm simulation exercises will include a bomb explosion, an ambush and hostage-taking scenarios at the Abreeza Mall.

Recorded scenarios will also be part in the simulation exercise (SIMEX) to test police, the security forces, the local government leaders, including the barangays on their capability and readiness to respond to a crisis like terrorism, law enforcement, insurgency and disaster.

Davao City is piloting Southern Storm, which is an interagency security and disaster simulation exercises led by the PNP. The city was chosen as the pilot area because it is not only the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte but also of the high-level threat in Mindanao.

PNP Deputy Director General for Operations Camilo Pancratius Cascolan said a 5 to 10-minute lockdown will be implemented along J.P Laurel Avenue – Abreeza Mall area because of the scenarios that will happen outside the mall plus the evacuation of people from the building.

Cascolan said there might be rerouting of vehicles along the area fronting the mall. “The area should be clear,” he said in a phone interview.

The exercise will also involve the barangay officials and some residents of Barangay 20-B.

Some personalities will take the role of mayor, councilors, other heads of agencies to determine how they respond to crisis especially in terror incidents.

The interagency security and disaster simulation exercise project is of national scope. This will determine the interoperability of the police organization.

The project has components to include the Crisis Response System where there will be simulation exercises in several areas towards the last week of the month or first week of February.

Cascolan said the next SIMEX will be in the National Capital Region (NCR),. However, he said it depends on PNP Chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa where to hold the next activity.

Cascolan had earlier explained that Southern Storm is also to plan counter-terrorism strategy, including senior decision-making, operational and tactical responses.

This would gauge the level of understanding, response, and readiness of all those involved. This would also help authorities identify gaps, weaknesses, and find ways to improve response system of the government.

For the Davao exercise, the guests and all other participants will start to assemble at 5:30 a.m followed by the invocation, safety briefing.

The main areas of the exercise are in front of the ASEAN Fruit Market and inside the active area of the Abreeza Mall.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and Dela Rosa will lead other officials from the Public Security and Safety Center, Police Regional Office (PRO) XI, Davao City Police Office (DCPO) and the Task Force Davao.

A critique session will take place 9 a.m.

The mayor already asked barangay officials to participate in the SIMEX.

She welcomed the security sector’s initiative to conduct the initial anti-terror exercises in the city – as this will test inter-agency and community preparedness and will address weaknesses in the event of a terror attack and other emergencies.

“We all need to be prepared because the fight against terrorism and crime is the responsibility of everyone,” the mayor said.

She said the cooperation, support, and patience of Dabawenyos during the conduct of the exercises will strengthen our readiness and capability to ensure the safety of our city and our communities against the threats of terrorism and crime.”

The mayor had stressed the importance of being prepared for any eventuality considering that the city had already experienced several violent incidents such as the bombing of Roxas Night Market while New People’s Army (NPA) has continued its operations in the hinterlands of the city despite the city government’s effort to reach out to them. Lilian Mellejor/PNA –