EDITORIAL - Inciting to sedition

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Inciting to sedition

What if you call for a mutiny or revolt and it is ignored? The nation has seen this happen several times in the past years, with both the people and the Armed Forces of the Philippines rejecting calls for leadership change through means other than free elections.

Are such calls part of free speech? Authorities are studying this after Davao del Norte first district Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, in a speech at a rally Sunday night in Tagum City, urged the AFP to withdraw support for President Marcos. The call was made as Alvarez warned that the policies of the Marcos administration over the West Philippine Sea were escalating tensions and could even lead to war with China.

Officials of both the AFP and the Philippine National Police were quick to announce that their organizations were loyal to the chain of command. As of yesterday, the AFP along with the Department of National Defense were studying the delisting of Alvarez from the roster of military reservists. The Department of Justice, for its part, brushed aside a public apology of Alvarez and said it would proceed with an investigation for possible inciting to sedition. The House of Representatives is also reportedly considering a probe of Alvarez by its ethics panel.

Perhaps it was the position of Alvarez in government as well as his political alliances that made all these agencies take his call seriously. The rally in Tagum, Davao del Norte was one of a series staged by groups led by former president Rodrigo Duterte to oppose the administration-backed push for constitutional amendments.

Duterte has openly accused the Marcos administration of wanting to perpetuate itself in power through Charter change. In recent months, Duterte has also been warning the administration of restiveness in the military. Considering the ties that he cultivated with the troops during his presidency, is the administration worried that his camp could actually galvanize withdrawal of support from the President and commander-in-chief?

It’s been years since the AFP actively intervened in politics, or tried to. Today the coup virus is supposed to have been eliminated from the uniformed services. Instead of encouraging the resurgence of the coup virus, public officials should lead by example in developing a professional Armed Forces, insulated from politics.

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