MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) The military called on troops anew to remain loyal to the chain of command, amid renewed tensions due to the scandal triggered by the inquiry into the controversial national broadband network contract.
"They should remain focused on their job, the mandate given to them?For them to be involved in any activity that can be categorized as political matters is beyond them," Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman, told a news conference.
"As members of the Philippine Army, our purpose remains clear, our role remains clear. We will remain loyal and faithful to the chain of command and to the commander-in-chief," Brigadier General Ricardo Morales, commander of the Philippine Army's Headquarters and Headquarters Support Group, said in a speech in Fort Bonifacio.
"Ours is a purely volunteer Army. No one in the Army is indispensable," Morales added, according to the statement.
At the same time, Bacarro also warned soldiers against expressing their opinions on political matters in public.
"They should not be doing that," the spokesman said, when pressed by reporters.
In a phone interview, Morales said he wanted "to remind them [troops] of their oath of obedience and loyalty."
The Army official also warned troops against spreading "rumors" through text messages.
"Do not spread rumors. You will pass on this message or rumor only to your intelligence officer. Remember that! We will not participate in any political activity," Morales said.
Morales' statements on Monday were in contrast to his behavior in mid-2005, when he criticized the construction of resort for soldiers in Boracay Island in an email circulated to alumni of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).
Asked if his present position was a turnaround from his previous statements, Morales said: "It's not. That was an internal matter. I was just questioning the allocation of military resources."
"I paid my dues because of that," Moales said with a laugh, when asked if he stood by his 2005 letter.
Shortly after the letter was leaked to media, Morales was sacked as commander of the 404th Infantry Brigade based in Mawab, Davao del Norte.
After roughly a year in the freezer, Morales was assigned as brigade commander in Bukidnon province, and then as camp commander of Fort Bonifacio.