Staying Positive and Proactive Despite the Pandemic

On March 5, 2020 the AFP CMO School formally opened its Strategic CMO NCO Course Class 22-20.  The class is composed of Sixteen (16) Enlisted Personnel came from the different Branches of Service of the AFP and Sixteen (16) Non-Commissioned Officers from the Philippine National Police.  As they were just starting their journey in this Strategic CMO course, the first local transmission of COVID-19 in the Philippines was confirmed by the Department of Health on March 7. A week after, the Executive Secretary, Office of the President released a memorandum dated March 16 placing the entire Luzon under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) from March 17 to April 13, 2020.

SCMO NCOC Cl 22-20 students during the repacking of relief goods at 7th Civil Relations Group, CRSAFP in support to “Kapwa ko Sagot Ko”.

The Filipino family and all sectors of society, including the security sector, are affected by the pandemic.  Parallel to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis to the education sector in suspending classes, military training institutions have also been affected. While students of the AFP CMO School remained in the School premises, the AFP CMO School has prioritized ensuring their health safety as well as that of the training staff through the strict enforcement of health precautionary measures and social distancing.  As mass gatherings are suspended, the School has eliminated classroom instruction, made necessary adjustments in the management of its courses, and has maximized the use of the online platforms in delivering academic instructions to the students.

Students on duty assists in the AFP’s Task Groups Response and StratCom .

While the pandemic had such impact on the operations at the AFPCMOS and to the student lives of the 32-strong soldiers and policemen, the School Staff and the students, as public servants instilled with the sworn duty to the country especially in times of crisis and emergencies, took initiative in helping alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Voluntarily contributing money from their own pockets, they have prepared food packs and distributed these to less fortunate families in the streets of Metro Manila, as part of supporting the AFP’s “Kapwa Ko, Sagot Ko” Program.  Apart from this initiative, the Staff and students have also assisted the 7th Civil Relations Group, CRSAFP in the repacking of relief goods, as well as the Media and Civil Affairs Group, CRSAFP, which spearheaded the AFP Mobile Kitchen, by serving as volunteers in the packing of thousands of food packs.  Apart from these, the students have also been deployed to assist the AFP, through the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations, J7, in its Task Groups Response and Strategic Communications for COVID-19 upon the national government’s declaration of ECQ,

AFPCMOS staff and students distribute food packs in the area of Pasay City.

These efforts by the AFPCMOS staff and students may not compare to the efforts of other frontliners who risk their lives fighting COVID-19, but what makes it significant is the value of sharing of blessings even in simple and little ways.

AFPCMOS Staff join in preparing food packs in the AFP Mobile Kitchen. Photo by: SN2 Mark Jade A Autencio PN

Some students shared their thoughts on these recent experiences.  As Air Woman Second Class Joan D Saga-oc Philippine Air Force put, positive mindset inspired them to be proactive despite their own struggles and circumstances with the pandemic. “While coping with our online assignment deadlines, we also assist in online research and monitoring at the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations, J7, in crafting of strategic communication plans of the AFP in its efforts in fighting COVID-19.

We did not stop there. We felt there was more we could do, so we initiated feeding the hungry for free during this pandemic. We cooked fine meals and distributed them within Metro Manila to the homeless and to anyone struggling to get food, while taking all precautionary health measures. We saw and felt hope in people’s eyes despite the aura of dismay and fear caused by this pandemic.  Also our actions boosted our own morale.”

Private First Class Jolly Mateo Philippine Navy (Marines) talked about how keeping the body healthy and protected as we help in fighting COVID-19.  “While helping those who are in need, we need to take care of ourselves also, we do our physical activities such as doing some workout routine and jogging to keep our body fit and healthy.”

The heart of a public servant to serve is always alive in every military and police personnel for Patrolwoman Asia Mariz B Ayochok Philippine National Police “We are alive, and we are still breathing, so we extend our helping hands to others and we will make it through each day together. We are alive, and as long as we are: we will live to serve; we will live to protect; and we will live for humanity.