PNP deploys SAF in areas covered by MO 32

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde ordered the deployment of Special Action Force (SAF) companies in the Bicol Region, Samar, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental to help suppress sporadic incidents of violence there, in compliance with Memorandum Order 32.

“We have synchronized our tiered response to Memorandum Order No. 32 issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on November 22, 2018 that reinforces the guidelines in implementing measures to suppress and prevent lawless violence, specifically in the Bicol Region, and the Samar and Negros provinces, in relation to Proclamation No. 55 (Series of 2016) declaring a state of national emergency,” Albayalde told reporters in a press briefing.

Albayalde said a total of 132 members of the PNP elite force will augment the existing forces in the areas covered by the memorandum order.

“Well in each company more or less there are 127, that’s a standard size of one company of the SAF with more or less mga four to six officers including the company commander. So, the size of one company, it’s more or less 127 to 132 personnel,” he said.

“As of this time the augmentation is based on the memo. I gave a directive to the director of the SAF to deploy immediately each company in Bicol Region and Samar area with additional deployment coming from the national headquarters,” Albayalde said.

In national, regional and provincial levels, the PNP chief said they are realigning deployment of forces according to the prevailing intelligence assessment and threat evaluation with the underlying objective to thwart any attempt by domestic threat groups to commit acts of violence in these areas.

“We have alerted all maneuver and territorial police forces in these areas to assume an active defense posture while stepping-up proactive operations to suppress lawless violence and acts of terror, and prevent these from spreading to other localities,” he stressed.

The PNP chief also assured that the memorandum order is not a prelude to a nationwide declaration of martial law.

Albayalde explained that the memorandum was based on the series of rebel attacks in the areas mentioned — the rebel attack in a police station in Samar, the Sagay massacre in Negros Occidental and ambush of cops in Bicol.

“Of course not. Remember, the State has the obligation to protect its citizens from lawlessness. This is part of it. The President saw the need to deploy more forces in these areas following the series of incidents and attacks by communist rebels. It has nothing to do with martial law,” Albayalde added.

Martial law is currently in effect over Mindanao, since the start of the Marawi siege in May last year, and there is a pending resolution in Congress to further extend it.

After the press briefing, Albayalde went to Davao to attend the Peace and Order Council meeting with the PNP and AFP.

The meeting, according to PNP spokesperson, Chief Supt. Benigno Durana, will also help establish the coordination on the response on all aspects of security threats in the provinces mentioned in Memorandum Order 32 that was recently signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Durana said the number of additional policemen and soldiers will still depend on the result of the threat assessment that will be conducted by the police and military leaderships. (PNA/Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)