Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III is urging intelligence agencies to submit proposals to increase their capabilities to deal with terrorist activities, which he said have become the “new norm.”
Pimentel’s call came after senators from the majority bloc were briefed by acting Interior Secretary Catalino Cuy on the continuing crisis in Marawi City that included an overview of the capabilities of the country’s intelligence agencies.
A native of Mindanao, Pimentel admitted being bothered by the failure of intelligence agencies to sound the alarm over the Maute group’s plans for Marawi City.
The battle between extremist gunmen and government forces for the Lanao del Sur capital that began May 23 continues to rage.
“Our intelligence agencies have the duty to be as capable as possible to deal with this threat,” he said in a statement released Friday following the briefing.
In May, Pimentel called intelligence agencies to task for their failure to prevent the explosions that rocked Manila’s Quiapo district.
Explaining why intelligence agencies should seek Congress’ assistance, Pimentel said: “From what I learned, we already enjoy a good relationship with Interpol. However, we cannot maximize the relationship because of the lack of high-tech equipment necessary to keep watch on terrorist groups.”
“Only they know what they really need. They must tell us what they want to buy, why they’re needed, and how much they cost. Only then can we actually fund them in the budget,” he added. “The equipment might be expensive, but it would be more expensive to risk the lives of our citizens and have to rebuild cities over and over again because we cannot prevent attacks.”
He added that with the equipment they need, intelligence agencies “will not have any excuse when called to account for what the Filipino people have spent on them if they fail.”