Military Ordered to Shun Politics; Ermita, Tells DND and AFP Officials to Maintain Neutrality

Article excerpt

Byline: ROY C. SINFUEGO

Defense Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita has ordered the Armed Forces to stay away from politics and keep themselves insulated from intrigues and political issues as the country gears up for the May elections.

"With the coming elections, we must always keep in mind the constitutional mandate of the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Let us not be affected by the intrigues and the issues in the political arena. Instead, let us focus our attention to accomplishing our mission effectively and efficiently," Ermita told more than a hundred key DND and AFP officials who made a courtesy call on him and AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Narciso Abaya at the Officers' Club in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City for the traditional joint DNDAFP New Year's call.

Earlier, Ermita ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to undertake effective Troop Information and Education (TIE) programs that will emphasize among others, the Constitutional duties and responsibilities of military personnel, their adherence to the doctrines of the civilian supremacy, and the chain of command and the prohibition against their being involved in political activities.

In a memorandum issued last Nov. 15 to Abaya, the DND chief also called on military commanders to be aware of the concerns of their subordinates and ensure that such concerns are properly addressed and attended to.

"There is a strong need to strengthen the troop information and education program of the AFP. Military commanders must set aside a regular period for the conduct of troop information and education, to apprise military personnel of government policies, thrusts, and programs and current issues affecting the country and the AFP," Ermita said. …