Boracay Island holds simulation exercise

ILOILO CITY—Gunfire and blasts erupted along the white shoreline and waters of Boracay Island as security personnel “clashed with “kidnappers.”

boracay island simulation

Boat sightseers were not terrified and rather were attracted to the equipped men along the shoreline close Boat Station 1, at the northern end of the island.

Security personnel were simulating an assault on the island as a part of improving security and safety measures on the world-famous island-resort in Malay town in Aklan province.

Around 100 personnel were included in the 25-minute exercise to show and evaluate the ability of the newly launched Joint Task Force Boracay, said Rowen Aguirre, the team’s executive director.

The multiagency task force is made out of Boracay Tourist Assistance Center, the island’s police force; the Philippine National Police Maritime Group; the Philippine Coast Guard; the Philippine Army; the Philippine Navy; the Bureau of Fire Protection; and Malay municipal disaster risk reduction and management office.

Aguirre said the creation and initiation of the team was set even before a month ago’s attack of Abu Sayyaf bandits to Bohol province, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Visayas.

In any case, he said the Bohol crisis emphasized the need for security readiness regardless of the possibility that the 1,032-hectare Boracay Island was much farther from the base of the bandits in Basilan and Sulu provinces.

The island is off the northwestern tip of Panay Island in Western Visayas.

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“It would be difficult for them [to reach Boracay] but not impossible,” Aguirre told the Inquirer.

Activity simulated the arrival of a group of equipped men wanting to grab tourists on Boracay Island.

In the activity, a few “kidnappers” were captured at a checkpoint, with some killed and others captured after a firefight using blanks.

Utilizing data taken from those arrested government troops found improvised explosive devices planted by the criminals. These were then disabled through controlled explosions.

Another phase of the activity included intercepting another group of criminals who laid hold of a boat and attempted to escape from the island.

Philippine Navy units also caught and conflicted with another group of armed men that was going to join those already on the island.

Vice Adm. Ronald Joseph Mercado, Navy flag officer in command; Maj. Gen. Jon Aying, commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division; and Chief Supt. Cesar Hawthorne Binag, Western Visayas police director, witnessed the exercise.