By Martin Sadongdong
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced Sunday that it has raised its “red” alert status as part of security measures for the fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Duterte on Monday.
Colonel Noel Detoyato, AFP public affairs office chief, said the red alert status shall require all of its military personnel to be on standby mode and ready for dispatch to support the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The PNP, particularly the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO, is leading the security efforts for the President’s SONA.
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines, together with the whole Filipino nation, hopes for a safe, peaceful and successful conduct of the 2019 State of the Nation Address by President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, July 22,” Detoyato said in a statement.
The military’s public affairs chief noted that state forces will continue to be on a proactive stance against all threats of violence even if the military has not monitored any specific threat from local terrorist or threat groups.
“The AFP calls on our citizens to report to authorities any suspicious individuals and activities in their surroundings,” Detoyato said as he appealed for the public’s continued vigilance.
“The fight against terrorism and the preservation of peace are a shared responsibility of everyone so we should all do our part in this whole-of-nation approach towards peace and development,” he added.
Earlier, 1st Lieutenant Arianne Bichara, spokesperson of the AFP’s Joint Task Force-NCR (JTF-NCR), said soldiers who will augment the police for the SONA will be armed with short firearms.
She explained that this is part of their security protocol so that state troopers can immediately respond to threats against their and other peoples’ lives.
She assured that the soldiers will observe maximum tolerance towards the protesters, as ordered by no less than the AFP Chief-of-Staff, General Benjamin Madrigal.
The PNP had said around 14,000 Metro Manila cops will be deployed on Monday morning around Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City where the President will deliver his speech, and in areas where mass assemblies are expected to be held.
Organizers of mass protests estimated that 14,000 individuals will participate in SONA rallies.
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