Philippine military keeps 1500 troops on standby

March 3, 2008 Monday
Philippine military keeps 1,500 troops on standby in capital after alert
Text of report in English by Philippine newspaper The Philippine Star website on 3 March
Some 1,500 troops have been placed on standby in Metro Manila to respond to any emergency
even as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) lowered the alert level which was raised last
week to prepare for anti-government demonstrations.
The National Capital Region Command (NCRCOM) will maintain the large "manoeuvre force"
due to the continuing security threats in Metro Manila, officials said.
Capt. Carlo Ferrer, spokesman for NCRCOM, said while the alert level has been lowered, they
are keeping a standby force as the military continuously monitors plans of terrorists to stage
attacks by taking advantage of anti-government protests.
He clarified that so far the terrorist plots have not yet been validated, but military units in Metro
Manila will be prepared for possible attacks.
"Our pro-active stance is part of our duty to secure the NCR. What is being validated is whether
these will actually be conducted or whether they (terrorists) are already in the NCR," he said.
The NCRCOM preparations include efforts to counter any terrorist attack in Metro Manila and
also to stop any attempt to topple the Arroyo administration.
The command had augmented its forces by deploying three battalions of soldiers from units
assigned near Metro Manila, in preparation for last Friday's interfaith rally by religious and
cause-oriented groups calling for the resignation of President Arroyo over allegations of massive
corruption in her government.
The troops were backed by more than a dozen armoured personnel carriers.
Some sectors have criticized the military and police for baring alleged plans of terrorists to stage
attacks during the protest actions to prevent people from joining.
But the AFP said it was not meant to be a scare tactic, as there were indeed reports of such a plot.
Ferrer said even the communist New People's Army earlier called on its forces to stage attacks to
hasten the downfall of the Arroyo administration.
There were even reports that disgruntled elements in the military were prepared to withdraw
support from the chain of command, although this has been denied by AFP and defence officials.
The NCRCOM had earlier mobilized more than 3,000 troops in Metro Manila who were placed
on red alert status as part of the administration's precautionary measures against any attempt to
destabilize the government, before the 22nd anniversary of EDSA 1 People Power revolution last
Feb. 25.
The soldiers were backed by two Scorpion light tanks, dozens of armoured personnel carriers
(APCs) and several Humvee combat vehicles with machineguns.
The police force in Metro Manila under the National Capital Region Police Office was also
placed on heightened alert to prepare for possible violence that could erupt from the protest
More police checkpoints were set up and a high level of security was maintained in vital
installations in the metropolis.
During last Friday's interfaith rally there were reports that some segments of the military were
planning to break from the chain of command and were just waiting for critical mass before they
joined the demonstrators in the protest action in Makati.
The police said 15,000 gathered in the streets while rally organizers claimed that more than
70,000 participated.
Source: The Philippine Star website, Manila, in English 3 Mar 08
Copyright 2008 The Philippine Star