By Francis Wakefield
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has placed all its camps and units all over the country on red alert status as part of its preparations for the May 13, 2019 National and Local Elections.
AFP Chief of Staff of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., disclosed that the declaration of “Red Alert” status was to make certain that troops around the country can act immediately on any emergency that may arise before, during and after the elections, and prevent any violence from threat groups.
Madrigal said the 142,000-strong military, as well as all AFP camps, have been placed on Red Alert status starting at 8 a.m. Friday, May 10.
“The AFP is on red alert status starting 8 a.m. May 10, in support to the Commission on Elections, and the Philippine National Police in the upcoming National and Local Elections.” Gen Madrigal said in a press statement.
“We are ready to respond appropriately for the honest, orderly, and peaceful conduct of elections,” he added.
The AFP Public Affairs Office earlier said that 809 from a total of 98,000 military personnel were sent off last Tuesday (May 7) in a ceremony held in front of the Lapu-Lapu Grandstand at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, to augment the Comelec in areas that need services and assistance from security forces to ensure a safe and secure election.
“As of May 2, 2019 the AFP has committed to provide 98,000 troops comprising of 70 percent of our total strength, ready to augment the Comelec in ensuring a clean safe and secured midterm elections. A total of about one million elements from various stakeholders have been committed for this particular political exercise,” Madrigal said during the activity.
“Some troops in combat mode will also shift to election mode although our regular and non combat operations will continue as necessary. We hope that Filipino voters will be encouraged to freely exercise their right of suffrage and at the same time remain vigilant and continue to support the authorities in thwarting any attempt to disrupt and unduly influence the results of the coming 2019 elections,” he added.
Madrigal said the presence of committed and dedicated forces from the Comelec, AFP, PNP and other partners and stakeholders manifest their unity for a common purpose.
He also assured that the AFP will also continue to intensify its 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.
“Along this line, let me assure all of you that the AFP shall remain apolitical and non partisan, just that the president continuously reminds the defense force to be neutral, we in the AFP will heed only to mandate and our loyalty remains to the flag alone,” Madrigal said.
“Likewise, we shall also fully support and ensure the implementation of the gunban as we promote a peaceful and non violent conduct of the elections. With all the challenges ahead, we assure that the AFP would always be faithful and dedicated defenders of peace and your reliable partner in this political exercise,” he added.
Madrigal said the mandate of the whole AFP and the PNP was to provide security and make available, at the least time possible, land, air and water craft assets, communication systems and other equipment in support of the Comelec in the implementation of the election laws, rules and regulations in order to ensure free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible conduct of this elections.
“I would like to challenge every soldier, policeman, public servants and our fellow Filipinos to work together and remain vigilant during this crucial time in our history,” Madrigal said.
“We have long been aspiring for peaceful exercise of democratic right to vote, thus now is the opportunity right infront of us. Let us grab this chance and nurture it with our own lives,” he stressed.