There is no split in Philippine military, says defense chief

Soldiers take part in a parade during the 79th anniversary celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Quezon city, Metro Manila December 18, 2014. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 September 2018
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There is no split in Philippine military, says defense chief

  • Officers and men and women of the armed forces might differ in opinion, “but cannot expect them to make unusual activities over political issues
  • I command the troops to adhere to the rule of law and always obey the chain of command

MANILA: Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana stressed on Monday that troops’ morale is high as he downplayed reports of military unrest due to the political situation in the country.
This came as Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez reminded soldiers to obey only the chain of command and to stay out of politics.
The statements were issued by the Philippines’ top security officials amid reports of destabilization against President Rodrigo Duterte after his controversial order revoking the amnesty of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, an ex-Navy officer-turned-lawmaker.
“That (split in the military organization) is just a rumor,” Lorenzana told reporters in a press briefing at Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo. He said some groups were making up the story that there many disgruntled active military personnel, but he had not seen any indication.
When asked about the soldiers’ morale, the defense chief replied: “Their salary was increased ... so they have high morale.”
However, Lorenzana also said there was indeed a destabilization plot from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples’ Army which was hatched in 2016 and finalized in 2017. “They have a plot to oust Duterte ... now I don’t know if there are other groups that will connive with them,” he said.
Lorenzana said Galvez’s warning to soldiers not to meddle in partisan politics was “just precautionary” in case someone tried to recruit them for the plan to oust Duterte.
Galvez also belied claims by some quarters of divisiveness in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). “I assure our people that, as in many times in the past, the AFP will be one and undivided as an organization,” he said.
He likewise warned anyone attempting to divide the military by sowing intrigues and discord: “You will not succeed.”
Nonetheless, Galvez reminded “every soldier, airman, sailor, and marine not to meddle or take part in partisan politics,” as he emphasized that their loyalty should be to the Constitution.
“I command the troops to adhere to the rule of law and always obey the chain of command. Violation of these instructions will be dealt with severely and personnel who get involved will be immediately relieved from their post and investigated,” he said.
“While I am aware that the troops have individual views on many issues, those merely hallmark an intelligent and mature organization like the AFP. But we always put the interest of the organization and the nation above our own.”
Further, he said that the AFP submits to the majesty of the Supreme Court (SC) and yields to its wisdom as it tackles the petition filed by Trillanes pertaining to Presidential Proclamation 572 (PP 572) that voided his amnesty.
“In deference to the SC that has taken cognizance of the case, we will not anymore comment on its merits as we hope other parties would follow suit,” said Galvez.
Meanwhile, a retired army general said Trillanes’ claim of political persecution by the Duterte administration will not have a major impact on the AFP, which he said has grown into a professional organization.
He pointed out that officers and men and women of the armed forces might differ in opinion, “but you cannot expect them to make unusual activities over political issues.
“So far, we don’t have any indication that our military will resort to any ‘unusual activity’,” said the former general, who asked not to be named. He pointed out that not even Trillanes’ classmates in the Philippine Military Academy had given him their support.
“That is because is (Trillanes) is being hounded by his past actions,” the source said, referring to the failed uprisings led by the mutineer-turned-politician against the previous administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
“There was a split within their ranks, among the classmates of Trillanes,” the former general said, adding that money was one of the issues that caused the division within their group.
“So they were jailed after the failed Oakwood mutiny. In the end they learned that there was money and Trillanes was the one who held on to it. However, he only supported the Navy elements among the Oakwood mutineers. Those from the Army service, they had to produce their food and supplies ... and they’re even his classmates.”


Russia says Taliban ready to attend Afghan peace talks in Moscow - RIA

Updated 19 September 2018
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Russia says Taliban ready to attend Afghan peace talks in Moscow - RIA

  • Afghanistan's deputy foreign minister is expected to visit Moscow

MOSCOW: Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday the Taliban was prepared to attend multilateral peace talks on Afghanistan in Moscow, RIA news agency reported.
Afghanistan's deputy foreign minister is expected to visit Moscow on Thursday to discuss the dates of the talks, the Afghan embassy was cited as saying earlier.