MANILA, Philippines – With the election season about to get into high gear in 2015, President Benigno Aquino III warned the military against the “selfish interests” of politicians gunning for positions in the 2016 elections.
Aquino gave the warning at the 79th Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) anniversary celebration in Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday, December 18, where he also announced that he would soon sign into law a bill that grants a 60%-increase in the subsistence allowance of troops, cops, and uniformed personnel.
“Nalalapit na po ang 2016, at alam naman po natin na sa panahon ng halalan, talagang may mga magpupumilit pa ring gamitin kayo para sa pansariling interes. Ang atas ng taumbayan: Tungkulin nating siguruhin ang katiwasayan pagdating ng halalan. Inaasahan ang inyong hanay na manatili sa panig ng taumbayan,” the President said.
(The year 2016 is drawing near and we know that during the election season, there would be those who would try to use you for their selfish interests. The people’s command: It is out duty to ensure peace order during the elections. Your ranks are expected to take the side of the Filipino people.)
He added, “Huwag kayong magpapadala sa tukso o magpapakaladkad sa sinumang nagbabalak na ilihis tayo sa tuwid na landas, (Do not be tempted or allow yourself to be dragged by people who will lead you away from the straight path).”
During the 2010 presidential elections, the Aquino camp had warned that then President Gloria Arroyo would use the military to ensure the victory of her candidate. After winning by a landslide, one of Aquino’s first actions was to compel Arroyo-appointed Armed Forces chief General Delfin Bangit to opt for early retirement.
‘New equipment, higher allowance’
Aquino has taken care of the military, pouring money into its modernization. His government alloted P90 billion for the acquisition of new frigates and a squadron of fighter jets, among others, in the wake of China’s aggressiveness in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The President announced that he would “immediately sign” into law a measure increasing the subsistence allowance of troops and cops from P90 to P150, once he receives it.
“Inaabangan na lang po natin ang panukala, at ‘pag lumapag ito sa ating mesa ay pipirmahan agad natin ito (I’m just waiting for it. Once it reaches my table, I will sign it immediately),” he said.
As Aquino enumerated the new defense equipment to be delivered starting next year and the benefits the military is set to receive soon, he admonished those who intend to revert the military to its “old ways.”
“Ngayon, buong-buo na ang suporta sa inyo ng estado at ng taumbayan. At sa mga nagnanais pang ibalik ang inyong institusyon sa lumang kalakaran: Mahiya naman kayo, at matakot din. Hindi titigil ang reporma, at hindi titigil ang aming pagsisikap para masigurong mananagot ang mga tiwali,” Aquino said.
(The government fully supports you. And to those who want to bring the institution back to its old ways: Shame on you, and be afraid too. Reforms will continue, as well as our efforts to ensure that the corrupt would be held accountable.)
Aquino enumerated the “successes” of the military:
- The efforts of the Philippine Air Force C130 pilots in transporting troops during the 2013 Zamboanga crisis and relief goods in the aftermath of the 2013 Bohol earthquake and typhoons that hit the country
- The Philippine Navy’s successful resupply and rotation mission to Ayungin Shoal in March 2014
- The story of courage and the “great escape” of the Filipino peacekeepers – members of the Philippine Army – in the Golan Heights in August 2014
Aquino also highlighted the crucial role that the military is playing to establish peace and stability in the country, which he said is necessary to establish a business-friendly environment. – Rappler.com
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