As the May elections draw near, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is preparing for any planned attack that may be launched by the New People’s Army (NPA) which is considered as the “biggest” security threat thus far.
Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP spokesperson, said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has partnered with the AFP and Philippine National Police to deputize military personnel in ensuring the “free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible” elections on May 9.
“We can say that the communist terrorist group [is the biggest threat] because they want to influence our elections especially now that they are weakened. They cannot match the force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines so they would want to elect a candidate that they can easily manipulate and threaten,” Zagala said in a radio interview over dzBB on Sunday, Feb. 13.
“That’s what we are monitoring right now, the communist terrorist group is really a serious threat,” he added.
There are at least seven cities and 39 towns that are being monitored by the military this coming elections due to the threat of communist rebels and private armed groups. Zagala said most of them are located in Mindanao.
“We are looking at the history of violence in previous elections or election-related incidents. From there, the [Comelec] together with the AFP and PNP will declare it as areas that are in need of strict monitoring. These are just general areas per region,” Zagala said.
Once an area is declared to be an election hotspot, Zagala said military and police personnel will be augmented to ensure the elections there will be secured from communist groups, local terrorists, and private armed groups.
Zagala said AFP Chief, Gen. Andres Centino has directed area commanders to assess all the security concerns that the military has been receiving since the start of the campaign period last Feb. 8.
“Rest assured that we have enough manpower that is dedicated for the elections,” he promised.
Meanwhile, the military spokesperson reminded all soldiers to remain apolitical and non-partisan. He said the AFP will no longer reshuffle its commanders and personnel as “we rely on their professionalism.”
Earlier, the PNP reshuffled some of its police chiefs, especially in areas where they have relatives, to ensure that they will not influence the outcome of local elections there.