Updated 15:25 PM PHT Sun, February 19, 2017
(CNN Philippines) — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief General Eduardo Año says the deployment of more than 300 rogue cops in Basilan will be of great help to the military in focusing their operations in the hinterlands.
Año says based on his talks with PNP officials, the 300 policemen from Metro Manila will be tasked to ensure safety in town and city centers.
They may also be deployed to man checkpoints.
Año adds the policemen may also be deployed in other focus areas in Mindanao.
He said, "Ang usapan po namin sa PNP, not only Basilan but they will beef up their forces in priority areas. Their main job is to take care of town centers, urban centers so that the AFP will concentrate in the hinterlands. Malaking tulong yan sa mga urban at town centers lalo na sa pagmanman ng mga checkpoint at pag-conduct ng mga civil-military operations. Makakatulong din sa atin yung PNP. Makadagdag ng manpower sa areas na yan so mapi-free yung AFP forces sa mga lugar na yan so we can have more warm bodies to run after the Abu Sayyaf."
[Translation: Our agreement with the PNP is they will not only be in Basilan, but they will beef up their forces in priority areas. Their main job is to take care of town centers and urban centers so that the AFP will concentrate in the hinterlands. It will be a big help especially in manning checkpoints and when conducting civil-military operations. The PNP can help us. They can add to the manpower in those areas, which will mean the AFP will be freed up so we can have more warm bodies to run after the Abu Sayyaf.]
Earlier, PNP Chief Ribald Dela Rosa says the policemen will be brought to Basilan on Tuesday.
Año said they are preparing a battalion-size task force that will help the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in carrying-out anti-illegal drugs operations.
A battalion size is roughly composed of around 500 troops.
Año clarifies the AFP will only assist PDEA in conducting operations against high-profile drug syndicates and not against street level pushers.
With the AFP's participation in the war against illegal drugs, Año promised that their operations will not be bloody.
The military chief says he will utilize the so called Task Force NOAH, the group assigned in identifying soldiers involved in illegal drugs, and providing intelligence information to other law enforcement agencies concerning illegal drugs.
But this time, they will put a strike force component to the Task Force.
Año says the AFP has an existing memorandum of agreement with PDEA when it comes to enforcing anti-illegal drugs law but he says they need to sign another MOA to adjust the details of their partnership.
Earlier, PDEA Director General Isidro Lapeña says they are waiting for an executive order from Malacanang that will formally create the government's inter-agency task force against illegal drugs that will replace the PNP's defunct Anti Illegal Drugs Group.
Ano said, "Nag-usap na din kami na we can start doing operation kung meron nang target package. But as I've said, the Armed Forces will always be at the support role. And when that EO is approved, kasama din diyan ang training package sa mga personnel na ma-a-attach o ma-o-opcon sa PDEA."
[Translation: We've agreed that we can start doing operations where there are target packages. But as I've said, the Armed Forces will always be at the support role. And then that EO (Executive Order) is approved, it will include the training package of personnel who will go with the PDEA]
He added, "There will be an AFP Task Force that will work with PDEA. Not the whole AFP will be conducting anti- drugs operations because our mandate is to still run after internal threats to national security."