FEATURE | Former PH presidents given 8 security personnel

As a rule, former presidents of the Philippines are given eight security personnel who are tasked to guard and secure them for the rest of their lives.

These men are from the Presidential Security Group (PSG), a joint AFP-PNP-PCG-BFP service unit, tasked to protect the President, Vice President, their families and former presidents and ex-vice presidents and their families.

"They are entitled to eight personnel, who are officer-led, but this depends on the ex-president, and the threat levels," AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said.

"It could be more, it could also be less," he added.

While the PSG was established in March 6, 1987, the protection of the President and the Presidential Family has been always one of the tasks of the AFP since 1897.

A guard unit was activated to protect the first official President, Emilio Aguinaldo, from attempts on his life, while another was formed for the defense of Andres Bonifacio, the Supremo of the Katipunan revolutionary movement, as a result of the decisions of the Naic Conference.

In 1898, a presidential cavalry squadron was raised for the protection of Aguinaldo and his family, reinforced with a guards infantry company.

Like the present PSG, they all wore rayadillo uniforms, but with straw hats. Major Geronimo Gatmaitan was the unit commander.

In 1936, the 1st Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division, Philippine Army, raised the same year, was tasked with defending President Manuel Quezon, his family, and the palace complex.

They were joined by a guards company in 1938 to reinforce the President's security.

During the Second World War, units of the occupying Imperial Japanese Army initially took over guard duties at the palace, only to be replaced by an all-Filipino guard battalion at the insistence of President José P. Laurel. At war's end, it was in turn replaced by the AFP Presidential Guards Battalion under the orders of President Sergio Osmeña. (By Priam F. Nepomuceno, PNA)
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