No loyalty check amid Marcos ouster rumors – AFP

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star
No loyalty check amid Marcos ouster rumors � AFP
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner Jr. speaks to the media during a press briefing at Western Command in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines, August 10, 2023.
Eloisa Lopez / Pool / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — There is no need for loyalty checks on uniformed personnel as there is no destabilization plot against the Marcos administration, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Romeo Brawner said yesterday.

He said such destabilization rumors were not even discussed during yesterday’s command conference at Camp Aguinaldo, the first presided over by President Marcos.

“No need, no need because we are assured,” Brawner said when asked about the possible need for a loyalty check. “Personally, in my visits to units and in my meetings with commanders, I have personally gauged that there is no need for a loyalty check and that our commanders and our troops remain loyal to our Constitution.”

He explained to reporters that the AFP is focused on more pressing concerns like ending the communist rebellion, dealing with China on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue and addressing the possible effects on security of the raging conflict in the Middle East, particularly between Israel and the Hamas terror group.

“So we are looking into all of that, especially the challenges here in the WPS. So we’re facing so many problems,” he said. “I gave guidance to our commanders and I’ve been telling them repeatedly that we should be united and professional. They know it, and they understand it.”

The AFP has also repeatedly clarified that retired military officials and officers expressing their opinions on social media platforms are entitled to express their opinions as private citizens.

“I think first there is no credible threat to the stability of the country and if ever there are some individuals who would try to destabilize our country, they will fail,” AFP spokesman Col. Medel Aguilar stressed in an earlier interview over CNN Philippines.

“The AFP is a professional organization and so the officers and men that compose it adhere to the chain of command and are loyal to the flag and the Constitution,” he said.

The specter of destabilization has also haunted the Philippine National Police and PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. had to deny a rumor that retired personnel had been denied entry to Camp Crame.

“There is no issuance on that and there is no basis for us to prevent them from coming here,” Acorda said. It was earlier reported that some retired officers were spearheading the clamor for the ouster of Marcos.

When asked if the alleged restriction was part of a destabilization plot, Acorda insisted there was no destabilization threat to begin with.

He said restricting retired personnel’s access to Camp Crame “would adversely affect those seeking to process their retirement benefits.”

Acorda also emphasized the vital role of the police in addressing cyber violations, saying such exercise is within the bounds of the law.

He acknowledged the need for strict enforcement of laws against spreading lies, deception or fake news, but stressed the importance of not overreacting at the expense of freedom of expression.

Shift in focus

Meanwhile, at yesterday’s command conference, President Marcos reiterated his call for a shift to territorial defense in the face of the country’s problems with China in the West Philippine Sea and the weakening of the communist insurgency.

Noting that he does not want to micromanage the military, the commander-in-chief said he is giving his top commanders the freedom to be more innovative and imaginative in dealing with internal and external security concerns.

“We listened to the guidance of the President and what the President said is that just like with the past announcements that he made during his speeches, he said that we needed to reconfigure our approaches in dealing with the different threat groups. We need to deal with the communist terrorist groups, the local terrorist groups, the threats that we are facing in the WPS and of course the natural disasters,” Brawner told reporters after the meeting.

On modernization under Horizon 3 of the AFP Modernization Program, Brawner said the President is yet to approve proposed procurements for 2024 and that requests are still being refined. — Mark Ernest Villeza

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