AFP’s CBRN capabilities ideal for anti-Covid deployment

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is the agency most ideal to aid the government in its ongoing campaign to contain the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) due to its CBRN capabilities which allow it to protect its troops from such threats.

CBRN is short for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear.

This, according to a netizen, Timothy Chavaria, in his FB post on March 14, on why the government is justified in deploying AFP along with Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel in ongoing efforts to contain the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Metro Manila as exemplified by the ongoing 30-day community quarantine in Metro Manila.

"CBRN capabilities: The CBRN or the chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense are protective measures being taken by the military in times of presence of such threats. CBRN defense includes passive protection (quarantine and other preventive measures), contamination avoidance (decontamination techniques), and mitigation of such threats," he added.

Then called NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) during the height of the Cold War between the US and then Soviet Union and their allies, Chavaria said this capability was established in the above-mentioned period and designed to counter man-made threats that can be designated within the CBRN standards.

"But recently, (CBRN) was also deployed to prevent outbreaks and pandemic of various diseases throughout Africa (Ebola) and Asia-Pacific (Bird-Flu, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), etc.)," he added in his post.

Chavaria added that he felt compelled to express his opinion as a lot of people are posting their concerns on President Rodrigo R. Duterte's decision to deploy the AFP and the PNP.

Also, without the security provided by the presence of AFP and PNP personnel, community quarantine and other allied efforts to contain Covid-19 will be severely diminished

"Without the presence of the military, nor the police, the government efforts to maintain and upheld the community quarantine over Manila will be severely diminished. There will be little to no control towards movements of individuals in and out from the country, there will be no security to sustain a steady, smooth supply of economic goods and other essential materials for the city, quarantine efforts will not be effectively imposed, among other things," he said.

"This could (other than to socio-political and economic instability) exacerbate further the spread of the already threatening diseases, and it will only stretch our medical teams further to their limits," he added.

The AFP Health Service Command can provide additional manpower and facilities to help government and private hospitals that are already being stretched by the disease.

"The AFP's Health Service Command can provide the necessary manpower and facilities to give support to both the national effort to limit the spread of the disease and quarantine those who are affected. This could in turn, free up some of our medical sector to join on the wider international efforts to find the cure of this rising pandemic," Chavaria said.

He added that participation of security forces in such events are mandated under Executive Order 201 of 2003 under Section 3, where they are to assist the Department of Health (DOH) in enforcing quarantine in affected areas.

This function is also covered in the Quarantine Law of 2004.

"After the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak, the DOH created Department Memorandum 168 which called for the AFP and other law enforcement agencies to implement quarantine," he said.

He clarified that the AFP and PNP, despite being trained to protect the country against various security threats, is also tasked to respond natural disaster and conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief which includes provision of medical care to the victims.

"You know guys, the AFP nor even the PNP is not just a bunch of guys wearing camouflage and carrying guns. The two main security apparatus of our country are not just trained to fight the communist rebels in the mountains and to have an intense stare-down against the Chinese in the WPS (West Philippine Sea) One of the prime directive of these services are to respond to natural disasters or humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), and that includes a medical response," he said.

He added that containing the threat posed by Covid-19 is a two-pronged approach as valiant efforts are being conducted by medical personnel in containing the virus with AFP and PNP troops doing their part to make sure that there will be an orderly and safe completion of the community quarantine efforts.

"Solusyong Medikal, Hindi Militar' daw, tama; of course, and the AFP and the PNP are doing their part to help with the medical community to help solve this threat. Did you see that news where Kim Jong Un ordered the immediate execution of the infected North Koreans? now that's a military solution,"

Also, he asked critics of the AFP and PNP deployment on where they want to prioritize the deployment of these troops, chasing and neutralizing communist rebels and terrorists or helping the government contain the Covid-19 threat.

"The AFP is not the means to an end, it is just supporting such means, which is DOH, and our medical teams; the brave men and women, which is truly in the frontlines right now," Chavaria said.

While Covid-19 might be a medical problem, he asked whether critics want to transform in a security one before responding.

"Just to add, the world today is globalized and interconnected. It may be a mere medical problem today, but do we have to wait until it became a security one? Mga IS (International Studies) kong kaklase diyan, tinuruan tayo ng Securitization sa HUMSEC na subject," he added.

Source: Philippines News Agency