MANILA (UPDATED) – An Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) unit dedicated to protecting the vice president was activated Friday, days before Sara Duterte officially assumes the post.
The Vice Presidential Security and Protection Group (VPSPG) — formerly the Vice Presidential Security Detachment attached to the Presidential Security Group — will ensure the safety and security of the vice president and her family, according to the AFP.
The AFP said the VPSPG is now a separate unit and is "headed by an O-6 grade officer (rank of colonel/navy captain)."
"The AFP saw it fitting to provide the Office of the Vice President a dedicated unit that shall ensure the safety and security of the second-highest elected official in the country," AFP chief of staff Andres Centino said in a statement.
He led the activation ceremony Friday at the AFP General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Lt. Col. Rene J Giroy PA was appointed the unit’s first group commander.
DUTERTE 'THANKFUL' FOR NEW SECURITY UNIT
In a statement on Saturday, Duterte thanked the Department of National Defense (DND) and the AFP for the new security detail given to the OVP.
"The activation of the Vice Presidential Security and Protection Group (VPSPG) is commendable as it will resolve the matter of continuity in security for all vice presidents of the Philippines," she said.
"This AFP initiative also highlights the importance of having an independent group that will provide all Philippine vice presidents with the necessary security and protection," she added.
Duterte lauded AFP officials for their "foresight" in the activation of the new unit, as it may solve challenges if ever the president and vice president "face the misfortune of having strained relations" in the future.
Duterte and President-elect Ferdinand Marcos are constitutionally mandated to begin their terms at noon on June 30. They ran under the same ticket during the recently held elections.
Breaking with tradition, Duterte took her oath as the country's 15th vice president last June 19 instead of June 30.