PNP deploys SAF after Duterte order vs ‘lawless violence’

MANILA, Philippines – Teams from the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP SAF) have been deployed and realigned to areas in Samar, Bicol, and Negros island following President Rodrigo Duterte’s new Memorandum Order (MO) against lawless violence.

“I gave directive to the director of SAF na mag deploy kaagad ng tig-isang company dito sa Bicol and Samar area (to deploy one company to Bicol and Samar area immediately),” PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde told reporters in a news briefing Monday, November 26, adding that additional deployment will come from the PNP’s national headquarters.

According to the PNP, there are about 127 to 132 officers in one SAF company.

As for Negros Island, Albayalde said no additional deployment will be made as SAF officers will be realigned from semi-permanent forces placed on standby near the area to critical provinces where more law enforcement is needed.

Why the order? Asked why the President issued the order, Alabayalde said that reports of New People's Army (NPA) attacks in these places merited the need for additional cops and soldier to the areas.

Nakita ng ating presidnete na siguro with the series of incidents, kailangan dagdagan ang ating pwersa doon (Our President saw, perhaps, that with the series of incidents, we need reinforcements to our forces there),” he said.

Among the incidents Albayalde said were of significance were the “series of ambushes” of uniformed personnel in Bicol, the massacre of 9 sugarcane farmers in Sagay City, Negros Occidental, and the raid of a police station in Lapinig town in Northern Samar in August 2018.

These were also among the instances listed by Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo last Friday, November 23, which were among those Duterte considered in issuing MO 32.

MO 32 orders the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to "coordinate the immediate deployment of additional forces of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP (Philippine National Police) to suppress lawless violence and acts of terror" in those areas.

Prelude to nationwide martial law? Addressing criticism that the order could lead to creeping martial law across the country, Albayalde said the order “has nothing to do with martial law.”

“Of course not. Remember: The state has the obligation to protect its citizens from lawlessness....This is part of it,” Albayalde said.

The top cop said that localized peace talks with the NPA will also continue, considering continuous surrender of rebels showed these were effective.

He added, “The president has repeatedly said he will not declare martial law in the whole country.” – Rappler.com 

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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