Military: Everything normal; Police: Heightened alert for ‘Walk of Faith’
Both the military and the police denied destabilization rumors yesterday following the change in command in the Armed Forces of the Philippines Friday and the Philippine National Police going on heightened alert status Saturday.
The PNP said the heightened alert was part of security protocols for today’s “Walk of Faith” for the Feast of the Black Nazarene.
“We haven’t received any info relating to a destabilization plot,” said PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo in a press conference.
AFP spokesman Col. Medel Aguilar also denied the rumored destabilization plot.
“Negative. Everything is normal [at Camp Aguinaldo],” Aguilar said.
Aguilar said the military respects the decision of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to replace Lt. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro as AFP chief of staff and appoint instead Gen. Andres Centino to his old post.
“As a professional organization, the AFP supports the decision of the Commander-in-Chief, His Excellency Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. AFP,…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
Philippine Army head Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said they are fully behind Centino’s appointment.
“The army is a professional organization. We will always respect the decision of our Commander-in-chief,” he said.
Fajardo, for her part, said the vehicles inside Camp Crame shown in some photos circulating on social media were part of their preparation for today’s “Walk of Faith” that will start at the Quirino Grandstand and end in Quiapo Church.
The Provincial Mobile Force Company (PMFC) of Isabela province, on the other hand, confirmed setting up checkpoints on Saturday but said these were for a two-day Simultaneous Anti-Criminality Law Enforcement Operations (SACLEO).
Centino on Saturday urged the military to remain united as it is now at a “decisive moment” with no room for “squabbling.”
He said the military should not be divided in interpreting Republic Act No. 11709 which sets a fixed term of three years for the AFP chief of staff.
“As we strive to put this law into effect, we as an organization cannot afford to remain or to be divided and squabbling on how its interpretation stands to benefit one over the other, and lose focus on what is best for the armed forces as a whole,” he said.
“Therefore, to implement this law, the Armed Forces of the Philippines needs strong and determined leaders capable of steering the organization in the direction of stabilizing unity in ushering a truly modern and professional armed forces,” Centino said.
Bacarro, for his part, thanked all who supported him in his five-month stint.
“To my fellow soldiers, thank you for your trust and support,” said Bacarro, a Medal of Valor awardee.
“It is my fervent wish that I can repay in whatever way that I can for all the support you have given me. I have felt the outpouring of support, especially last night [Friday night when Centino’s appointment was announced],” he added.
President Marcos did not attend Saturday’s turnover ceremony. Instead, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin presided over the event.
In August, Mr. Marcos appointed Bacarro as AFP chief of staff, replacing Centino who was appointed by then-President Rodrigo Duterte in Nov. 2021.
Centino then was nominated by Mr. Marcos as the country’s ambassador to India.
Bacarro, who turned 56 in September, was the first to benefit from the new law, but his three-year term that was supposed to end in August 2025 was cut short with Centino’s fresh appointment.
Centino, who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 next month, now has a fresh three-year mandate.
Both Centino and Bacarro are members of the Philippine Military Academy “Maringal” class of 1988.
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