Comelec, DND sign agreement on military’s election role
Quezon City (12 October) -- DEFENSE and election officials signed on Thursday a memorandum of agreement (MOA) limiting the military's role during elections to responding to "serious armed threats."
Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. said the agreement is meant to ensure the military is "insulated from politics."
Cruz and Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos said the new MOA will prevent a recurrence of the “Hello Garci” scandal triggered by the leak of purported wiretaps of an apparent conversation between President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.
The tapes, administration critics say, reveal how the government, including the military, supposedly rigged the 2004 presidential elections in Arroyo’s favor. Several generals were mentioned in the tapes, including now Armed Forces chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr.
A military fact-finding board cleared Esperon and three other officers of the charges of election cheating.
"That will never happen again," Cruz said.
"Garci is gone, there will be no more Garci," Abalos said.
"What we have is hello Brawnie," he added, referring jokingly to election commissioner Romeo Brawner.
"The military has been dragged into this mess, kawawa naman sila (have pity on them)," Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos said.
Esperon, for his part, said: "These aberrations, which remain to be charges, we will leave that to the investigating bodies."
Aside from conducting security patrols, the military will only man checkpoints and enforce the election gun ban, Cruz said.
Soldiers will be barred from manning polling precincts, transporting ballot boxes and using their camps for canvassing votes, he said.
"There will be no more temptation for the military to engage in politics," he said.
Cruz said the MOA would cover not only the 2007 national elections but also referendums and plebiscites. (PIA) [top]