The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday said the Philippine Air Force (PAF) document calling its troops to prepare for “strict implementation” of the ongoing enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon is just for advance information and guidance of its personnel.
In a statement, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, said the document is supposed to be an “internal memo” for PAF.
“Per my conversation with the Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force (Lt. Gen. Allen T. Paredes) that document is an internal memo issued for the purpose of providing advance information to give guidance to personnel — in this case the PAF,” he said.
Arevalo made the clarification after President Rodrigo R. Duterte mentioned the possibility of using the military and police for the stricter implementation the ECQ if the supposed deterioration in discipline and order will continue and the people will not heed the pleas of government.
“Sa ngayon wala pa na namang utos ang Pangulo na mag-deploy na (As of now there is no order yet for the President to deploy),” he said.
He, however, said it is incumbent and customary on the part of the leadership of the PAF and the AFP under Chief of Staff, General Felimon Santos Jr. “to exercise his initiative of alerting and preparing our personnel including ROE (rules of engagement).”
“Again, the context is: sinabi na ni Presidente na mag-prepare ang AFP (The President said for the AFP to prepare) for deployment with the PNP (Philippine National Police) in case people will continue to defy the protocols and disobey the rules,” Arevalo said.
He said even before Duterte’s announcement of the possible use of security forces in the implementation of the ECQ last week, local chief executives of the cities of Quezon, Pasay, Parañaque, and Mandaluyong, and the municipality of Pateros have sought the assistance of the AFP in the enforcement of regulations.
“Almost all barangays in the NCR (National Capital Region) were actually seeking the assistance of the military and the police which shows the magnitude of the problem,” Arevalo said.
He said the AFP took cognizance of the order and already prepares for it even before the order to deploy is given.
“That, we suppose, makes the AFP unique and dependable as an institution because of initiative and foresight. We take orders and know which are specific tasks and which are implied,” Arevalo said.
Arevalo said the public should not be alarmed with the AFP initiative to prepare and deploy troops if necessary, adding what is more alarming is a lot of Filipinos are still violating the ECQ protocols.
“What we should all be alarmed about instead is the fact that a lot of people are blatantly violating the law and disobeying the rules and health protocols which MUST be strictly enforced — otherwise people die,” Arevalo said.
He added that the law-abiding citizens and those who follow the rules should not worry as there is no reason to be alarmed.
Meanwhile, PAF spokesperson, Maj. Aristides Galang on Sunday reiterated that the document is an internal one for Air Force personnel.
“The PAF is just anticipating of any scenarios in case the President as Commander-in-Chief of the AFP would decide to implement his statements lately to the public as earlier stated and prepare our troops in advance,” he said in a message to reporters.