More than a million personnel consisting of military and police and civilian contingents will secure the upcoming 2019 national and local elections, officials at a send-off ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo said Tuesday.
A total of 98,000 from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 149,830 from the Philippine National Police and over 1 million officials and personnel from other agencies, stakeholders and volunteer groups are committed to the keeping the political exercise on May 13 peaceful and successful.
“The send-off ceremony is a fitting testimony of our firm aspiration for a peaceful and successful conduct of the national and local elections next week,” said AFP chief Gen. Benjamin Madrigal. “This also signifies that we are all prepared and ready to be deployed in the different areas where our services and assistance are very much needed.”
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 and Department of Health were present in the ceremony.
The send-off was largely ceremonial, as most of the troops have already been deployed in preparation for the elections.
Madrigal reminded the troops to remain apolitical and non-partisan during the elections.
“I would like to challenge every soldier, policeman, public servant, and our fellow Filipinos to work together and remain vigilant during this crucial time in our history. We have long been aspiring for peaceful exercise of democratic right to vote, thus now is the opportunity right in front of us. Let us grab this chance and nurture it with our own lives,” Madrigal said.
Comelec Commissioner Luir Tito Guia expressed her gratitude to all the soldiers, police, civilian employees and teachers who will serve in the upcoming election.
The bulk of the troops, Madrigal said, will be deployed to critical areas in Mindanao, particular where threats from the Islamic State-inspired terrorists exist and in Luzon and Visayas areas confronting threats from the communist New People’s Army.
“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,” said PNP chief Oscar Albayalde.
He told his men to exercise the highest degree of professionalism, dedication, integrity, and courage in the performance of election and security duties.
“And as your PNP chief, I expect discipline to rule your performance, discipline in implementing security operations, discipline in dealing with the community, and discipline in your collaborations with other agencies and stakeholders,” he said.
“Let us remain firm and vigilant against the enemies of peace and forge stronger ties as we work hand in hand in ensuring peace and security across the nation. In the few days left before the elections, let us work even harder and remain on our feet 24/7 to assure our countrymen that their security forces are there for them at all times and in all circumstances,” Albayalde said.
National Capital Region Police Office director Guillermo Eleazar on Tuesday said about 16,000 police personnel will be deployed on Monday to ensure polling in a free, fair and peaceful manner.
The police force in Metro Manila would be on full alert, he said.
“Full alert means the highest level of readiness in all police offices and units and all personnel should be accounted for 100 percent. All leaves are canceled, except for those that are emergency in nature.
All of our policemen are present in their different offices or stations,” he added.
Eleazar tapped all district and station police commanders to monitor political developments in areas with a history of election-related violence.
“I have guided all NCRPO police officers to act in accordance with their mandate and conscience—to be above political affairs, to be fair, judicious and determined so we can uphold the integrity of the elections,” Eleazar said.
“Arrest those who violate the Election Code, charge them and pursue their cases in court—that is my order to all our police officers. As such, I am requesting all candidates and stakeholders in this coming election to exercise prudence and fair play,” he added.
In Mindanao, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will be participating the democratic elections for the first time.
The United Bangsamoro Justice Party, the political party of the MILF, has rallied its members to help achieve peaceful and orderly elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, saying the world is watching over the course of the May 13 polls.
The Bangsamoro Communication Network and the UBJP organized Monday a stakeholders’ forum on peaceful and orderly elections attended by hundreds of major election stakeholders, according to Abdulraof Macacua, UBJP secretary general.
Macacua said foreign nations are monitoring developments on the new political entity in Mindanao, how it selects leaders and how it administers the electoral process.
“This is our first time to participate in Philippine elections as an organization and we want it to be peaceful to show we are capable of holding peaceful elections in Mindanao,” he said. With PNA