New PH Army chief: ‘I shall see to it’ that no soldier abuses terror law
MANILA, Philippines—The new commanding general of the Philippine Army, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, vowed to make sure soldiers under him would not abuse the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
“I shall see to it that no soldier will abuse the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, and compel each one to exercise self-restraint and discipline in invoking and implementing the said act,” he said in his first speech as Army chief on Tuesday (Aug. 4) at the Army headquarters in Taguig City.
Dozens of petitions had been filed at the Supreme Court seeking to declare the new law as unconstitutional because of several of its highly controversial provisions, including one that would empower a body called Anti-Terrorism Council to issue arrest warrants, although it isn’t part of the judiciary.
Sobejana, a recipient of the Medal of Valor, the military’s highest award for combat, said the new law would allow Army operations against communist rebels and terrorists to have “legal basis.” He did not elaborate or explain if previous operations against rebels and terrorists had no legal basis.
Prior to his appointment as Army chief, Sobejana led the Western Mindanao Command, which had jurisdiction over several terrorist lairs.
The new commander of the 104,000-strong Philippine Army said that achieving peace is a collective effort.
“The attainment of peace is a collaborative peace, empowered undertaking,” Sobejana said.
“It must involve the commitment and support of the community, the government, the private sector, including our stakeholders, and other members of the uniformed service, all working to attain the common good for the interest and service of others,” he said.
Sobejana, a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Hinirang” Class of 1987, will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 in July 2021.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.