DND seeks troops exemption from poll duty
By Rose B. Palacio
Davao City (14 October) -- The Philippine National Police in Region XI lauded a bill submitted by Department of Defense (DND) Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. calling for the Commission on Elections to refrain from counting election results inside military camps in the so-called election hotpots.
PNP XI Director Ricardo Quinto said the PNP in the region supports this bill because this will shield police and military from partisan political activities.
The proposed bill has asked Comelec not to deputize the military personnel for election duties.
Under the present set-up, Comelec has the authority to deputize the military and the police for election duties and conduct the counting of votes inside military camps for security reasons.
The proposal was submitted as part of the Philippine Defense Reform programs to professionalize the Armed Forces of the Philippines as one major step to depoliticize military.
A top defense official said soldiers deputized by Comelec for election duties are at the mercy of politicians, particularly in remote areas.
This is the reason why the DND has made the proposal – to prevent a repeat of the “Hello Garcia” wiretap controversy where several ranking military officers were implicated in the alleged plan to right the election results in favor of President Arroyo.
While Comelec-accredited personnel supervise election activities in peaceful areas, soldiers perform the same duties in high-risk areas, the DND said. (PIA-XI) [top]