Amid finger-pointing, AFP, PNP to stage ‘unity walk’
MANILA, Philippines–Amid coup rumors following the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash and despite the finger-pointing between the police and military over the violent incident, the country’s police and military forces will take part in the “unity walk” as part of Wednesday’s 29th celebration of the Edsa People Power Revolution.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. said that to show their solidarity with the people, the AFP and the Philippine National Police would stage a “unity walk,” a reenactment of the historic salubungan march by the defunct Philippine Constabulary headed by then Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos and soldiers led by then
Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile.
The historic meeting of the two leaders in the middle of Edsa signaled the start of the uprising against the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Dubbed “Pagkakaisa sa Edsa: AFP/PNP unity walk,” the activity will have officials from both agencies come out of adjacent gates of their respective camps at 10:30 a.m. and walk toward Camp Aguinaldo’s Gate 2, where the People Power Monument is located.
Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP Public Affairs Office chief, said 300 troops are expected to take part in the “unity walk,” headed by the AFP Civil Relations Service chief, Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala.
President Aquino will lead a wreath-laying ceremony at 11 a.m., to be followed by a Mass at the Edsa Shrine at past noon.
“The activity is a symbolic one both in reenacting the unity of the Filipino people and in signifying the solidarity of the AFP and the PNP in serving the country,” Catapang said.
For its part, the PNP said the unity walk was expected to be more relevant and symbolic in the aftermath of the Mamasapano incident, which left 44 elite police commandos, 18 Moro rebels and five civilians dead.
“This will show that despite issues arising from the Mamasapano incident, the PNP and our military counterparts remain united and one in rendering public service and securing the country,” said the PNP spokesman, Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr.
In recent weeks, the PNP and the AFP have engaged in finger-pointing over accountability in the top-secret mission to pursue two wanted terrorists that led to a clash between the police commandos and Moro rebels.
Talks of destabilization plots and coup rumors have recently plagued the two organizations as well, although both agencies assured the public that they remain loyal to their duty.
But Cerbo added that uniformed personnel were continuously monitoring intelligence information on possible terror threats or destabilization plots against the administration.
Catapang said 500 soldiers, composed of civil disturbance management personnel, EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) teams, and K-9 teams, would be backing up policemen deployed for the Edsa anniversary.
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