THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will deploy about 40,000 troops across the country to safeguard the May 9 elections.


Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP spokesperson, said in a radio interview on Sunday that AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino ordered the soldiers to be ready to suppress any move by “threat groups” and lawless elements to disrupt the vote.

Zagala said the bulk of the deployment will be in the 14 cities and 105 towns classified as red, the highest threat level for “election areas of concern.” He said the units in the red areas have been reinforced, with more troops to be dispatched if necessary.

Zagala earlier said that 33,000 AFP personnel cast their ballots during the local absentee voting (LAV) last April 27 to 29.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said there were 93,819 LAV applicants, with 48,698 coming from the Philippine National Police, 32,786 from the Army and 4,261 from the Philippine Air Force.

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With just a week to go before election day, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) reminded local government units (LGUs) and political parties to strictly observe health protocols to prevent another surge of Covid-19 cases in the country.

“We are calling on LGUs to strictly enforce the Comelec Resolution 10732 that sets the guidelines on the conduct of campaign activities complying to the health protocols set by IATF,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Ano told The Manila Times.

Health authorities warned of a spike in infections because health restrictions such as social distancing have largely been ignored during campaign sorties and rallies.

National and local candidates are expected to go all-out in campaigning this week, and that could only aggravate the problem.