MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Saturday denied reports that it has mobilized all units and resources to foil a supposed destabilization plot of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
In an online press conference, PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said there was no instruction or order to go on full alert after three versions of a supposed memorandum circulated on social media.
“There was no instruction for full alert status. What we can confirm is that the PNP is on heightened alert status in preparation for the Traslacion,” said Fajardo, loosely referring to the Feast of the Black Nazarene or the Quiapo feast in Manila on Monday.
A heightened status is the second highest alert, equivalent to the AFP’s blue alert.
The Feast of the Black Nazarene draws millions of devotees but the Traslacion, or the transfer of the life-sized replica from Quirino Grandstand to the Quiapo Church, will not be held for the third straight year, which started in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Instead, there will be a “Walk of Faith” that will follow nearly the same route but sans the replica.
The rumors spread during the turnover of command between incoming AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino and Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
The event finished “smoothly,” according to a statement of Col. Medel Aguilar, AFP spokesperson.
Based on the circulating memos purportedly issued by the PNP chief, Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr., all units are to be placed on full alert due to “developing issues in Camp Aguinaldo,” “resignation of all personnel in DND (Department of National Defense)” and “destabilization movements from the AFP.”
“The AFP assures everyone that everything is normal,” Aguilar said.
In all three versions, police units were supposedly instructed to ensure 100-percent attendance, conduct exercises for the camp defense plan, monitor the activities of the military, account for pesonnel and firearms every hour starting at 1 p.m., and prepare the necessary firepower and communication equipment for all possible scenarios.
“The photos that were circulating (about armored personnel carriers or APCs inside Camp Crame in Quezon City), we can confirm that it is part of our preparations for Traslacion. These were readied in case they are needed,” Fajardo clarified.
Fajardo added that it is normal for the APCs to move around as part of monitoring on operational readiness.
She said Azurin is aware of the circulating messages and has already issued an instruction to verify the sources of the fake memos.
Confirmed on full alert status are the Malay-PNP in Aklan province for this weekend’s Boracay Ati-Atihan festival and the Cebu province-PNP since Jan. 4 in preparation for Sinulog fiesta activities leading to the grand parade next Sunday, Jan. 15.
Both feasts are in honor of Sto. Niño, the child Jesus.
The AFP is fully behind Centino, assured Aguilar.
“As a professional organization, the AFP supports the decision of the Commander-in-Chief, His Excellency Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. The AFP will continue in its mission to defeat all armed threat groups for the security and safety of our people, for the defense of our territorial integrity and national sovereignty,” Aguilar said. (with Priam F. Nepomuceno/PNA)