Maj. Gen. Jose Mabanta, 3rd Infantry Division commander, yesterday vowed to ensure that the Philippine Army in Negros and Panay will be apolitical and non-partisan in the May 13 elections.
“We are carrying a big responsibility in this electoral process and that is our commitment to ensure that our troops strictly observe the conduct of honest, orderly and peaceful elections and remain apolitical and non-partisan at all times,” Mabanta said.
He also said the 3rd Infantry Division remains committed in its mandate to support the police and the COMELEC in the implementation of election laws.
The holding of joint Comelec checkpoints by the Philippine National Police and Army in Negros and Panay recently led to the arrest of three ranking rebel leaders in Ilog, Negros Occidental in Jaro, Iloilo City, that also yielded several high-powered firearms, explosives and ammunition.
Mabanta supervises the internal peace and security operations of the 302nd and 303rd Infantry Brigades in Negros island, and 301st Infantry Brigade in Panay.
He reminded troops that the only political exercise they are allowed is to vote.
The Regional Joint Peace and Coordinating Center composed of the Comelec, AFP and PNP, will meet this week, on election-related issues and concerns, and their preparations for the election next month.
Mabanta said the Philippine Army in Negros and Panay is fully committed, and well prepared to address any armed threats. “Thus, we also fully support the campaign for a truthful, peaceful and free elections,” he added.*GPB