4ID to support PNP-10 in addressing election-related violence
Cagayan de Oro City (10 April) -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will continue to actively address serious armed threats (SAT) that would hamper and prevent the conduct of a peaceful and orderly elections.
This is the assurance of Maj. Gen. Jose T. Barbieto, Commanding General of the 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, who said the AFP, together with the Philippine National Police (PNP) as lead agencies under the supervision of the Commission on Elections will jointly take measures to prevent the occurrence of election related violent incidents (ERVI).
“By virtue of Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed into by the Dept. of National Defense (DND) and the Comelec, last year, specific units of the AFP can be called upon and deputized to address threats posed by the New People’s Army (NPA) and other secessionist and terrorist groups,” Barbieto said.
The 1987 Constitution empowers the Comelec to deputize the AFP, with the concurrence of the President, for the exclusive purpose of ensuring free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections but provides that AFP members be insulated from partisan politics and prohibited from engaging, directly or indirectly, in any partisan political activity, except to vote.
As provided by the DND-Comelec MOA, however, only the actual units or commands of the AFP in the SAT-affected areas jointly identified by both agencies shall be deputized by the Comelec.
Meanwhile, as promulgated per Comelec Resolution No. 7747 on Nov. 21, 2006, SAT refers to the presence of paramilitary forces, private armies, or identifiable, armed bands widely perceived to have committed or is committing terrorism, fraud or other election irregularities and threaten or tend to disrupt the holding of free, honest and orderly elections in any political subdivision or unit or any part thereof.
Determination of the SAT will be done by the Comelec through the Executive Director and the AFP through the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (J3) who shall jointly submit to the Comelec Chairman and Chief of Staff, AFP (CSAFP) a periodic report recommending the areas to be considered as being affected by SAT.
On the other hand, deputation of the AFP is limited only to providing security and deploying sufficient military personnel to man and patrol the SAT areas for AFP visibility, manning its checkpoints and enforcing the ban on persons who do not possess the necessary authorization from the Comelec to carry, possess or transport firearms.
Barbieto said notwithstanding the deputation of specific units or commands, the AFP shall continue with the conduct of all Internal Security Operations (ISO) or its own functions and responsibilities, during the election period.
On the other hand, the Comelec deputation of the AFP also prohibits the counting or canvassing of votes inside military camps, installations or facilities, clustering of precincts and transporting of ballots and other election paraphernalia and election results.
They are also prohibited from acting as security escorts to candidates and providing security to polling places, members of the Boards of Election Inspectors, Comelec personnel and other employees of the government performing election duties, including accredited citizen’s arms and making available certain AFP facilities, such as land, sea, and air transportation, communication systems and other equipment in connection with the elections.
However, subject to the approval of the CSAFP, AFP units may be requested to provide air, land and naval vessel escorts to the transportation facilities used in transporting election paraphernalia when security provided by the PNP cannot address the threat. (Rutchie Cabahug-Aguhob, PIA 10) [top]