Officers and men of AFP solidly behind PGMA - Teodoro
Quezon City (18 October) -- Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Thursday assured the public that the officers and men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are solidly behind their commander-in-chief, President Arroyo, amid the alleged bribery issue involving Malacanang.
Teodoro said the 120,000-strong military establishment would not be distracted by the supposed bribery, apparently aimed at killing the impeachment complaint against the President, because politics should not be their concern.
"I can say categorically say that the Armed Forces is solid and united behind the chain of command and political issues like this will not affect their (motivation in carrying out) their duties and responsibilities," the defense chief said.
Last Tuesday, Philippine Marine Corps commandant Ben Dolorfino admitted that the officers and men of the corps are affected by the bribery issue but at the same time doubted if this would lead into another destabilization move against the President.
The President has survived two major attempts by members of the AFP to topple her administration, the first of which was in July 2003 when more than 300 junior officers and soldiers occupied the Oakwood apartments in Makati City to dramatize their protest against corruption in government.
In February, last year, former Marine commandant Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda and former Scout Ranger chief Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim tried but failed to lead their men in withdrawing support from the President, the military's commander-in-chief. On Wednesday, AFP public information office chief Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro said the bribery issue may be a topic of the soldiers in informal discussions but doubts whether this would lead to violence.
He said the soldiers are focused on their assigned tasks.
"She is the duly constituted president of the republic and the Armed Forces will stand behind duly constituted authority, stand behind the President," Teodoro said of the President, who is on the top of the military chain of command.
Asked if the troops are indeed affected by the bribery issue, Teodoro said: "The Armed Forces is focused on its tasks, which is to counter the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) and the CPP/NPA/NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army/National Democratic Front) plus the reforms in the Armed Forces.
Political issues are not the focus of the AFP." The military has renewed its campaign against the Abu Sayyaf following bloody skirmishes in Basilan and Sulu.
On the other hand, the AFP intends to finish off the insurgency problem on or before the President's term ends in 2010.
On what would be his message to military personnel who may have been already agitated by the bribery effort by some Malacanang officials, the defense secretary said: "They know their duties, I don't need to remind them about it." (PNA) (PIA) [top]