THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) assured on Saturday, January 7, 2023, the normalcy in its operations amid reports on an alleged destabilization plot in the organization.

“The AFP assures everyone that everything is normal. The movements of PNP (Philippine National Police) assets are part of the simulation exercises in preparation for the Feast of the Black Nazarene,” AFP spokesperson Colonel Medel Aguilar said in a statement on Saturday evening.

“Rest assured that the AFP, in coordination with other government security forces, will always be on guard to protect you from all threat groups,” he added.

Destabilization rumors came after the PNP allegedly placed its units on full alert, the highest alert status in the PNP that is equivalent to Blue Alert status of the AFP, the second highest alert.

Several unverified memoranda circulating in the PNP indicate that the elevation of alert status was due to the “destabilization movements” in the AFP.

But PNP spokesperson Colonel Jean Fajardo, in a press conference, belied such a memo, saying the shift to a higher alert status was to ensure the peace and order for the Walk of Faith in relation to the feast of The Black Nazarene on Monday, January 9.

“On the part of the PNP, what we can confirm po ay naka heightened alert ang PNP because everybody must know na nagsimula na itong ating security coverage para sa pagbabalik nung Traslacion sa Manila, particularly diyan sa paligid ng Quirino Grandstand at Quiapo Church, kaya kung makikita niyo ay marami po tayong pulis na nakakalat sa peripheral areas sa lugar at including ‘yung ating mga police maneuver forces,” she said.

(On the part of the PNP, what we can confirm is that the PNP is on heightened alert because everybody must know that our security coverage has begun for the return of Traslacion to Manila, particularly around Quirino Grandstand and Quiapo Church, so if you can see, we have many policemen scattered in the peripheral areas of the area.)

The destabilization reports also came amid the change of command in the AFP on Saturday.

On Friday, January 6, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. re-appointed General Andres Centino as the 59th chief of staff of the AFP, replacing Lieutenant General Bartolome Bacarro, a medal of valor awardee who assumed the top position on August 8, 2022.

Centino had previously served as the AFP chief of staff from November 2021 to August 8, 2022.

Bacarro was supposed to retire on September 18, 2022 but as Republic Act (RA) 11709 mandates, the AFP chief of staff; vice chief of staff; deputy chief of staff; commanding generals of the Philippine Army, Air Force and Navy; unified command commanders and inspector general will have a fix term of three years regardless of their age, unless terminated by the President.

The law was signed into law by former President Rodrigo Duterte in May 2022.

During the turnover ceremony, Centino reiterated his four major thrusts within the military organization: operational efficiency, optimal use of resources, advancement of professionalism and meritocracy within the organization, and capability development, which he said he will continue to implement.

“While significant gains have been achieved in our security campaigns, there remain critical tasks to be carried out that need to be fully complied. We must ensure that all our resources are employed to definitively address all the current and emerging threats,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)