AFP chief Galvez tells troops to stay out of politics

Camille Elemia
AFP chief Galvez tells troops to stay out of politics
'Our loyalty is to the Constitution. I command the troops to adhere to the rule of law and always obey the chain of command,' says AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr

MANILA, Philippines – Breaking his silence, the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) warned troops not to engage in partisan politics amid the revocation of the amnesty granted to soldier turned senator Antonio Trillanes IV. (READ: [ANALYSIS] Don’t mess with the military)

“I am…reminding every soldier, airman, sailor, and marine not to meddle or take part in partisan politics. Our loyalty is to the Constitution. I command the troops to adhere to the rule of law and always obey the chain of command,” AFP Chief of Staff Carlito Galvez Jr said in a statement on Sunday, September 9.

“Violation of these instructions will be dealt with severely and personnel who will get involved will be immediately relieved from their posts and investigated,” he added.

Galvez was with President Rodrigo Duterte in his official visits to Israel and Jordan when the proclamation revoking Trillanes’ amnesty was published in a newspaper.

Galvez also denied cracks in the AFP, as he warned persons or groups “sowing intrigues and discord” that they “will not succeed.” Trillanes had said the military is “conflicted” in implementing Duterte’s order.

“Let me belie claims by some quarters of divisiveness or rumblings in the AFP. I assure our people that, as in many times in the past, the AFP will be united and strong as an organization,” Galvez said.

“While I am aware that the troops have individual views on many issues, those merely hallmark an intelligent and matured organization like the AFP. But we always put the interest of the organization and the nation above our own.”

Submission to civilian courts

The AFP chief also reiterated the military’s “submission” and “deference” to the Supreme Court (SC), after Trillanes filed a petition questioning Duterte’s Proclamation No. 572 that voided the senator’s amnesty.

Galvez, who was also granted amnesty in 1996 for a 1989 failed coup, said the AFP would no longer comment on the merits of Trillanes’ case and urged others to do the same.

While the AFP chief has commissioned the General Court Martial to hear the case of Trillanes, a former Navy lieutenant who led the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege, Galvez said the proceedings will be on hold until the SC decides on the legality of Duterte’s order.

Duterte issued Proclamation No. 572 revoking the amnesty granted to Trillanes by former president Benigno Aquino III, citing the senator’s supposed failure to apply for amnesty and to admit his guilt. Old documents obtained by Rappler, however, show Trillanes did both.

Duterte initially ordered the AFP and the Philippine National Police to arrest Trillanes despite the senator’s civilian status since 2007, 4 years before he was granted amnesty. The DND and the Department of Justice (DOJ) had said the military has jurisdiction over Trillanes.

Duterte and the military, however, later changed their tune and said they would now wait for the decision of the civilian courts. The DOJ also sought arrest warrants for Trillanes from two Makati courts, but failed to get an immediate decision. (READ: TIMELINE: Gov’t gaps, retractions in voiding Trillanes amnesty)

Trillanes remains holed up in his Senate office upon advice of lawyers and friends, in an attempt to avoid a warrantless arrest. (LOOK: Inside Trillanes’ ‘home’ in the Senate) – Rappler.com

Follow the developments here:

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com