Soldiers told to stay clear of politics


Posted at Oct 24 2010 08:45 PM | Updated as of Oct 25 2010 04:45 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Officers and men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should stay away from partisan political activities, the head of a task force organized to secure Monday’s elections said.

Lieutenant General Reynaldo Mapagu, Task Force Honest, Orderly, and Peaceful Elections (HOPE) head and Army vice-chief, said AFP troops should focus on their mandate of ensuring peaceful barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections. 

"General Mapagu said that we have to be non-partisan. We should not participate in participate in partisan political activities," AFP Task Force Hope spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Arnulfo Burgos said on Sunday.

He added that Mapagu has ordered soldiers to intensify their intelligence operations against groups that could be planning to sabotage the polls.

Burgos, who is also AFP public affairs office chief, said they are expecting generally peaceful elections. 

"Based on our current monitoring, we have not monitored any threat or anything, any untoward incident that will affect tomorrow's conduct of the elections," he said. 

There are only 34 election-related violent incidents recorded so far, compared to the 98 incidents that were monitored during the last barangay and SK elections in 2007, he added.

Burgos added that military and police forces are only monitoring only about 2,301 election watch list or hotspots this year, compared to the 4,511 during the last barangay elections.

He said all AFP troops have been placed on red alert since Friday to ensure that they would be prepared for any emergency on election day.

"Our troops are pre-positioned and deployed already. That had been planned to make sure that it would be easy to deploy (forces) in case of incidents or if other areas need troops," he said.

In Metro Manila, a company of soldiers has augmented the AFP National Capital Region Command and is now involved in manning checkpoints in coordination with the Philippine National Police and the Commission on Elections.