MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Malacanang, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Department of National Defense (DND) said on Tuesday that there is no cause for alarm over the death of terror leader Osama bin Laden.
President Benigno Aquino III said there is no specific terrorist threat in the Philippines as of now.
"Iyong specific, not at this time," Aquino told reporters in Malacañang.
The President said he directed his national security team to convene on Wednesday morning to assess the country's threat level.
The AFP is currently on white or heightened alert. DND spokesperson Director Eduardo Batac said there is no need to declare red alert over the death of Bin Laden.
"The Philippines is a low priority target," Batac said. "Nevertheless, we are remaining vigilant over the possibility of retaliatory attacks."
The DND says there have been no intelligence reports indicating an imminent attack in Metro Manila.
Asked about the government's efforts to neutralize the Abu Sayyaf in the south, Batac explained that the bandit group has already been significantly marginalized, with only around 300 members remaining. Latest developments will only mean that the group will be further weakened, he said.
"The death of bin Laden not only means the loss of a leader image, but also logistical and financial support," he explained.
Batac revealed that the AFP is planning to shift its efforts from internal security to external security by 2015. He said they hope that the Abu Sayyaf will neutralized by that time.
"This is brings to a close the quest for justice of the victims of the 9-11 terror attack, some of whom are Filipinos," Batac said. "However, we must not let our guard down."
AFP vice-chief Lt. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu shared Batac's assessment that the Philippines will not be a high priority for retaliatory attacks. He said the priority targets could be U.S. and other Western countries.
"If they are able to attack the US, the psychological effect would be big. But of course, even if we are low in their priority…we should remain vigilant," Mapagu said.
"We have reminded our units to be vigilant and of course to be prepared for any retaliatory actions that they may do and then, we have to more information on this, intelligence gathering so that if we are able to gather information, we can pass it immediately to units for preemptive actions," he added.
Mapagu said the military has not monitored any imminent retaliatory attacks based on initial intelligence monitoring reports.
Sense of justice
Even as the government is assessing national security following bin Laden's death, the families of the thousands who died in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the U.S. have felt a sense of justice.
Some of them didn't even think that the capture of the most wanted man in the world would be possible.
One such family, the Cuas, longed for justice for Grace Alegre Cua, who was among 19 Filipinos killed in the September 11 attacks.
Grace was working for a bank at the World Trade Center. Her remains were never found.
"I was in shock because I didn't believe she was going to work that day. I was devastated but I always was thinking she's on vacation just in heaven and not down here. It's pretty hard at times," said her daughter, Nicole.
Now that bin Laden is dead, the Cuas said it's as if a huge weight has been lifted off their shoulders.
"Para syang demonyo. Pinapatay niya ang mga inosente. Natutuwa ako na namatay na siya. Marami pang madadamay kung siya'y buhay," said Grace's brother-in-law, Wilson.
In Polangui, Albay, the family of Cesar Borja also welcomed the al-Qaeda leader's death.
Cesar was a policeman in New York and was one of the first to respond at Ground Zero.
In 2007, he died from pulmonary fibrosis, believed to be due to the toxic chemicals in the area.
In Laoag City, the relatives of Benilda Domingo-Gabriel are also thankful.
She was working as a janitor at the World Trade Center when the terrorists attacked.
The families of 9-11 victims hopethat the terror sowed that day will never happen again. - With reports from Ryan Chua and Jonathan Magistrado, ABS-CBN News.
Information taken from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/