Retired generals back Robredo
MANILA, Philippines — A group of retired police and military generals expressed support for the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo and defended her from allegations that she was in cahoots with communist insurgents.
Retired Gen. Domingo Tutaan Jr., spokesperson for the the Armed Forces of the Philippines from 2013 to 2014, said on Wednesday “several former officers from both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police” support her and her running mate, Sen. Francis Pangilinan because their platforms on national defense and security were “a complete standout.”
“We wanted to be part of the effort in trying to have the best leader and we saw in [Robredo] her capability to look into things from the perspective of a would-be president,” Tutaan told the Inquirer. “Her programs of action and policy guides will not only work but are sustainable and acceptable to the Filipino people.”
Tutaan, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1981, spoke on behalf of a group that included retired police Gen. Generoso Cerbo Jr., former AFP chiefs of staff Emmanuel Bautista, Jessie Dellosa, Hernando Irriberri, and Eduardo Oban Jr.
Tutaan said their endorsement “was not an overnight decision but something that started since 2016 … we don’t want to emphasize campaigns today because unlike others who only visited communities now, she has been there for six years.”
The retired general said Robredo had been in touch with them to consult how she could best approach longstanding problems in national security, illegal drugs, and insurgency.
He added that Robredo best represented what it means to have “boots on the ground”—a military metonym that has come to mean physical presence where it is needed.
Among Robredo’s programs include strengthening diplomacy and foreign relations, as well as engagements with international organizations to assert sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea, and modernizing the defense sector to help it keep up with external and internal threats.
Because she works closely with the communities, he added, Robredo also was the only one to propose looking into the root causes of dissent that breeds insurgency” and to “address the real needs of the communities,” he added.
“Most people think the root cause of insurgency is poverty but not all poor people become insurgents,” he noted. “She’s the only one to look into dissent that leads to the armed component of insurgency and what (triggers) it: injustice, discrimination, and how these can be addressed.
Tutaan also belied allegations that Robredo would form a coalition government with the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.
“To echo her own words, kasinungalingan iyan (Those are lies),” he said. “Those are scurrilous allegations [that] only started because people started seeing thousands and thousands of people believing she can be the next president.”
“Those are scurrillous allegations (meant) to defame, malign her and destroy her image,” he added.
Tutaan also dismissed concerns that Robredo, the lone female presidential candidate, would be a weak military leader. “That’s stereotyping because she’s a woman. This is not a competition of sex and gender but of their program of governance,” he said.
“It’s baseless because we’ve seen her, as a woman in the areas where she is needed,” he said.
Tutaan noted how she has gone to communities wrongly seen to be dangerous, like Basilan province where she was warmly received and endorsed by Gov. Mujiv Hataman.