Military, police sends off forces to secure next week's elections
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has committed 70 percent of its total strength to assure a successful midterm election next week.
“Your Armed Forces is steadfast on its mandate and committed to provide a total of 98,000 personnel, comprising almost 70 percent of the AFP’s total strength, ready to support the Commission on Election (Comelec) in ensuring a clean, safe and secured midterm elections,” AFP Chief of Staff, General Benjamin Madrigal Jr. said during a send-off ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo Tuesday.
“Of course bulk of our forces are those in the areas that are threatened by communist terrorists as well as local terrorist groups, especially in Mindanao and in the hinterland areas in Luzon and Visayas,” he added.
The send-off ceremony for troops who will be securing the elections was also attended by Comelec Commissioner Al Parreno and PNP Chief, Police General Oscar Albayalde.
Only a total of 809 personnel and 28 vehicles from the AFP; 778 personnel and 23 vehicles from the PNP; and representatives from other stakeholders such as Department of Education (DepEd) and Department of Health which served as ceremonial forces were present during the ceremony.
Other personnel have been pre-deployed in preparation for the elections.
However, a total of 98,000 personnel from the AFP, 149,830 from the PNP, and over one million officials and personnel from other agencies, stakeholders and volunteer groups were committed to the Comelec represented by Commissioner Luie Tito Guia.
Madrigal said although the military will continue its combat operations against threat groups, the AFP will prioritize security and peaceful conduct of election by shifting troops deployed for combat to election-related duties.
“Some troops in combat mode will also shift to election mode although our regular and non-combat operations will continue as necessary,” he said.
“Our checkpoint operations are continuing, as well as the conduct of combat operations, ongoing clearing operations. This will proceed up to about a couple days before the actual elections and when the troops conducted the clearing operation is in place then the other troops will be the ones who will provide security for the movement of election paraphernalia as well as the personnel who be undertaking the, or supervising the elections,” he explained.
“The AFP will also continue to intensify military operations, intelligence monitoring, community support programs and other efforts to prevent corrupt and destruction elements that intend to jeopardize and disrupt the conduct of the elections,” he added.
“Our troops are ready for the job. While we expect security threats to continue and lawless elements to attempt to disrupt the elections in some areas, I must say we are fully prepared to face and address challenges that may come our way,” he said.
Albayalde said more than 1,000 policemen were trained by the Comelec in case there is a need for police to substitute as members of the election board. Robina Asido/DMS