THE Armed Forces of the Philippines will just be standing by and would not be deploying any unit to augment police contingents securing the last State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino 3rd on July 27, an AFP official announced on Wednesday.
“We have alerted some units inside Metro Manila but they will not be deployed, they will just be alerted inside camps,” according to Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office.
At the AFP headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City (Metro Manila), Detoyato said around 500 soldiers, coming from three major services, have been put on a standby and ready to be deployed if the need arises.
K-9 units, explosives and ordnance personnel and some members of the medical corps are also on alert.
The Philippine Army, Detoyato said, will have its security and escort battalion on guard. Another battalion from the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division in Rizal province is also on call.
Around 2,000 soldiers are reserved for possible deployment, Detoyato said.
“They will just stay inside camps. When requested and when necessary [they will be deployed]because we are only in the support role to the PNP [Philippine National Police],” he added.
Detoyato said the AFP has not received any reports of threat or scenario from any groups during the SONA except for the usual protest rallies by militant groups.
“We are just hoping that they [protesters]will be peaceful… it is their freedom to express their right but we just hope and appeal that that freedom will not infringe on the freedom of others,” he added.
Col. Vic Tomas, deputy commander of the joint task force National Capital Regional Command, said that even without information on threats or violence, the AFP will not let its guard down.
He added that there is no order yet for declaration of red alert status from the AFP hierarchy but it is expected that by Monday, the military will be on heightened alert.
The PNP said it also has not monitored any specific threat that will undermine Aquino’s last SONA.
“The report that we got is that there’s no threat,’” its chief, Director General Marquez, said also on Wednesday in Filipino during a news conference at Camp Crame, the PNP’s main headquarters, in Quezon City.