Makabayan solon: ‘Sad, if true’ coup rumor stemmed from new AFP ranking system
MANILA, Philippines — If it’s true that a brewing destabilization plot within the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) stemmed from a dispute in the new system of ranking officials, then it only shows the sad state of the military today.
This was the assertion of Alliance of Concerned Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro while expressing concern that a possible coup d’etat in the AFP could translate to violence and rights abuses.
“Nakakabahala ang ganitong mga sinasabing ‘squabblings’ sa loob ng AFP dahil kung may ganito ay maaaring magkaroon na naman ng mga coup de etat tulad nung dati at magkaroon uli ng sandamakmak na human rights violations at pagdanak ng dugo,” she said in a statement Monday.
(Supposed squabbling within the AFP is concerning because if there is tension, a coup may happen. And just like in the past, there might be many human rights violations incidents, and lives may be lost.)
“That is the sad state of the AFP today that officers are wrangling among themselves to get to the top rank and get a bigger piece of the pie while their soldiers are committing human rights violations left and right,” she added.
The Makabayan lawmaker was reacting to reports over the weekend that several AFP personnel were dissatisfied with a law that sets fixed terms for officials in the uniformed services. As a result, according to the legislator, some officials might have felt “bypassed” since they may no longer be promoted – as they may have already retired from the service when the top AFP posts become vacant.
Castro said the controversial law is Republic Act No. 11709, enacted under the term of former president Rodrigo Duterte, which places fixed three-year terms for senior AFP officials.
The AFP, however, insisted that the situation inside their headquarters – Camp Aguinaldo – remains normal amid the rumor. The AFP also belied allegations that a mass resignation within the uniformed service occurred.
READ: Camp Aguinaldo situation ‘normal,’ no mass resignation in AFP, says spokesperson
“The supposed reason of the squabbles is Republic Act No. 11709, a law enacted by former President Rodrigo Duterte in April last year that, among others, set a fixed term of three years for eight of the most senior AFP officers, including the chief of staff and the commanders of the Army, Air Force and Navy,” Castro said.
“It seems that the law is creating tensions or divisions within the military, as some members may feel that they have been passed over for promotion or that the selection process was not fair,” she added.
READ: AFP chief Centino calls for unity among military personnel over tenure law
On Saturday, January 7, the Philippine National Police (PNP) was pressed if the full alert status was due to the alleged destabilization plot following a leak of supposed written directives from different police regional offices. The direct where was stated that units are urged to conduct simulation exercises of camp defense due to the growing tensions.
PNP denied preparing for such a reason, maintaining that the full alert status was placed due to the Feast of the Black Nazarene, which usually attracts huge crowds to Quiapo Church.
READ: PNP on heightened alert for Black Nazarene feast, not for alleged destab plot, says spox
The AFP’s major service branches consequently showed support for its chief, Gen. Andres Centino, amid talk of unrest.
READ: AFP units back Centino amid talk of unrest
But aside from the possible coup, Castro is also worried that if Congress pushes for the repeal of Republic Act No. 11709, it might result in political favors from the AFP.
“Some military officers are strongly lobbying for it to be repealed or at least amended by Congress. So political favors are expected to be owed when that happens,” claimed the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Party-list representative.
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