DND reminds soldiers to be apolitical during May polls
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - January 7, 2016 - 1:55am

MANILA, Philippines - Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Thursday reminded soldiers to remain apolitical a month before the campaign period for the 2016 polls starts.

In a speech delivered before the military’s New Year’s call in Camp Aguinaldo, Gazmin noted that being nonpartisan is part of their mandate.

“As guardians of democracy, we must remain apolitical and dedicated to our mandate, as it is the price we pay for our sworn duty,” Gazmin said.

“We resolve to continue to build upon our accomplishments, and work for the professionalization of our bureaus, agencies, units and offices,” he added.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri said soldiers who engage in partisan politics would be punished.

“Those who will be involved in partisan politics will have to face the consequences of their actions. We are serious on that and we don’t want anyone, any soldier, airman, sailor or marine to be involved in any partisan politics this coming elections,” Iriberri said.

“This has been my marching order in all the units that I visited and I have also emphasized the punishment for those who will violate that policy,” he added.

Military officials previously said that soldiers who side with candidates or political groups would be discharged from the service.

Some military officials have been tagged in previous controversies about alleged election rigging.

In 2005, some generals were accused of manipulating the 2004 poll results after their names were mentioned in the infamous “Hello Garci” recordings.

The audio files allegedly detailed the mechanism to rig the vote canvassing to ensure the victory of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The so-called Garci tapes contained wiretapped conversations between a woman believed to be Arroyo and a poll official believed to be then Commission on Elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.

The woman was asking the election official if she could win by more than one million votes.

Meanwhile, Iriberri lauded his troops for their accomplishments last year and vowed to work to ensure a peaceful 2016 elections.

“We have emerged victorious amidst challenges that helped shape us into a better organization. The commitment and sacrifice of our soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines that made these possible gave us very good reasons to welcome the year 2016 with high hopes,” the military chief said.

“For this year we are determined to continue to win the peace and protect the gains that have been made, we just also dedicate our energies and efforts to ensure a peaceful electoral exercise come may 2016,” he added.

Iriberri said the task of protecting the Filipinos and the state was “noble” but “daunting.”

“There is even more that we must get done in 2016. Our record is solid, our hopes are high, and our force is strong. Let us stay focused on our organizational and operational target, pouring hearth and soul into doing our duty as proud and capable members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he said. 

ACIRC ARMED FORCES ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES CAMP AGUINALDO DEFENSE SECRETARY VOLTAIRE GAZMIN GARCI GAZMIN HERNANDO IRIBERRI IRIBERRI NEW YEAR PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO
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