2022 Philippine Elections

‘Harsh’ penalty for politicking soldiers ahead of 2022 elections – Lorenzana

Pia Ranada

2022 ROLE. The military is tasked with keeping order during election season to allow candidates to campaign and citizens to vote.

Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

Amid government efforts to disqualify progressive groups from elections, the defense chief says soldiers should not post about progressive candidates during the 2022 campaign period

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana promised harsh punishment for any member of the Armed Forces who engages in partisan political activities – even online – in relation to the 2022 elections.

“The sanctions will be harsh for people who are involving themselves in politics…. My order to the AFP is to be apolitical. They should not be involved in politics,” Lorenzana said in a Rappler Talk Newsmaker interview on Wednesday, August 4.

Military and police personnel are prohibited from intervening in any election campaign or engaging in any partisan political activity, which is considered an election offense under the Omnibus Election Code.

“I forbid them from discussing with other people who they will vote for,” added the defense secretary.

How about social media posts about progressive groups?

In recent years, the military and Lorenzana himself was criticized for allowing Facebook accounts run by soldiers to post false information and propaganda about lawmakers representing progressive party-list groups.

These same party-list groups are expected to field candidates in the 2022 elections.

Asked if the defense department will also tolerate social media posts against these progressive candidates during the campaign period, Lorenzana said he would not.

Sa akin, ano, that is foul kasi…sundalo sila and being a soldier carries with it some weight. May bigat din ‘yung sundalo – kahit sundalo lang, private, ‘pag sinabi niya ‘yan, magkakaroon siya ng kaunting influence sa community niya,” said the defense chief.

(For me, that is foul because they are soldiers and that carries some weight. Soldiers exert influece, even if that soldier is just a private, if they say that, they will have some influence in their community.)

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The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict is seeking the disqualification of some progressive groups from the 2022 elections, claiming they are legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines which the executive branch has designated as terrorists. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.