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.”


Climate-change protesters target London Stock Exchange and Canary Wharf

Updated 25 April 2019
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Climate-change protesters target London Stock Exchange and Canary Wharf

  • The Extinction Rebellion group has caused mass disruption in recent weeks across London
  • Police said 1,088 arrests have been made since the main protests began last Monday

LONDON: Environmental activists glued themselves to the London Stock Exchange and climbed onto the roof of a train at Canary Wharf on the final day of protests aimed at forcing Britain to take action to avert what they cast as a global climate cataclysm.
The Extinction Rebellion group has caused mass disruption in recent weeks across London, blocking Marble Arch, Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge, smashing a door at the Shell building and shocking lawmakers with a semi-nude protest in parliament.
At London Stock Exchange’s headquarters on Thursday, six protesters dressed in black suits and red ties were blocking the revolving doors of the building.
At the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station in Canary Wharf, five protesters from the group climbed aboard a train and unfurled a banner which read: “Business as usual = Death.” One glued herself to a train.
“Extinction Rebellion to focus on the financial industry today,” the group said in a statement. The “aim is to demand the finance industry tells the truth about the climate industry and the devastating impact the industry has on our planet.”
Police said 1,088 arrests have been made since the main protests began last Monday.
The group advocates non-violent civil disobedience to force governments to reduce carbon emissions and avert what it says is a global climate crisis that will bring starvation, floods, wildfires and social collapse.
The group is demanding the government declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025 and create a citizen’s assembly of members of the public to lead on decisions to address climate change.