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Maute Group, Abu Sayyaf may pose threat to Traslacion, Miss U pageant - DILG chief

Traslacion (file)
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- Local terror groups could pose a threat to this year’s Traslacion, the annual procession of Manila’s Black Nazarene, on Monday and could continue to do so through the Miss Universe pageant, which the country is hosting later this month, Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno said.

"May mga intelligence reports (na nandito ang Maute Group sa Manila). Kasi mga terrorist groups ito eh, parang ito funded din from outside. Talagang there is this strong possibility na nandito na rin sila (There are intelligence reports. These are terrorist groups, it seems they are funded from outside. There really is a strong possibility that they are here)," Sueno told a press briefing in Malacanang Thursday.

He said there is concern the terrorists may seek to retaliate for the death of Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, alias Commander Tokboy, leader of the Ansar Al-Khilafah Philippines, a small radical group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

Maguid was killed early Thursday in Sarangani province.

Despite the possible threat, Sueno said the government has not entertained the possibility of cancelling the religious event on Monday, which is expected to draw up to 18 million devotees this year, because "talagang very deep iyong kanilang faith, iyong belief nila they think they are safe sa practice na ito (there faith is really very deep, their belief that they think they are safe in this practice). You cannot prevent them from exercising their faith."

Meanwhile, National Capital Region police director Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde inspected the route the Traslacion will take and voiced concern over the narrow and winding streets, which could throw off authorities’ plans to have the Black Nazarene back in the Quiapo church by 10 p.m. Monday.

Police also inspected the Quirino Grandstand at Luneta Park from where the procession will start.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada has suspended classes and government work in the capital city on Monday.