AFP, PNP display ‘unity’ at 29th EDSA rites
The symbolic display of unity, done every year, takes on a new meaning as it comes a month after the Mamasapano clash that has strained the relationship of the AFP and the PNP

'SHOW OF UNITY.' Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines officers and members link arms in a Unity Walk along EDSA to the People Power Monument during the 29th People Power Anniversary Celebration on Feb 25, 2015. Photo by Joel Leporada/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – It is a tradition that the two forces have been observing at every EDSA People Power Revolution anniversary, but this year, the so-called “unity walk” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police has taken a different meaning, said their officers.

On Wednesday, February 25, some 600 members of the AFP and the PNP walked with linked arms to the People Power Monument in EDSA – the first official activity that marked the 29th anniversary of the Edsa Revolution, as in previous years.

The symbolic display of unity comes exactly a month after the clash in Mamasapano town between elite cops and rebels forces, that threatened to create fissures between the AFP and the PNP over coordination issues. (READ: PNP-AFP rift? ‘We are one, we will overcome’)

“We are here to give importance to the hardship and sacrifices of our comrades in the AFP and PNP during the EDSA Revolution,” said Captain Marin Bello, one of the participants. 

Bello added, “This is also to show our people that whatever challenges or adversity that may come to our organizations, there will always be unity between AFP and PNP.”

On the eve of the EDSA anniversary, PNP Spokesperson Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr cited the special significance of this year’s unity march, in the light of recent events affecting the AFP and the PNP.

“We will see a more symbolic unity march of the AFP and PNP on Wednesday. It goes to show that despite issues on the Mamasapano incident, we can show that in the name of public service to our people the AFP and the PNP remain united. We are one, to render good services to our people to ensure the security of our nation,” Cerbo said in a news briefing in Camp Crame on Tuesday.

Both AFP and PNP personnel have expressed dismay over each other following the Mamasapano incident, where 65 people were killed – 44 Special Action Force troopers, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters, and 3 civilians.

The PNP is blaming the AFP for not sending timely help to beleaguered SAF troopers while and AFP has taken the PNP SAF to task for failing to coordinate with local military forces. (READ: Mamasapano: What ifs and what could have beens)

The AFP and PNP leadership, however, have insisted that they have no rift.

Soldiers walked from Camp Aguinaldo’s Gate 2 to the MRT Santolan Station, where they met PNP personel, linked arms with them, and marched to the People Power Monument to illustrate the spirit of the EDSA revolution.

After the activity, President Benigno Aquino III led the wreath-laying ceremony in the presence of other top national leaders, including Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr, Metro Manila mayors, AFP Chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr, and PNP Officer-in-Charge Leonardo Espina. –