Koko Pimentel: 'Insulate' armed forces from politics

Koko Pimentel: ‘Insulate’ armed forces from politics

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 10:18 AM April 16, 2024

Koko Pimentel: 'Insulate' armed forces from politics

FILE PHOTO: Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III during the hearing of the Special Committee on Philippine Maritime and Admiralty Zones on Monday, March 18, 2024. (Joseph B. Vidal/Senate Social Media Unit)

MANILA,  Philippines — Let people speak out, but insulate the country’s armed forces from politics.

This was according to Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, who reacted to statements made following Davao Del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez’s controversial remarks about the West Philippine Sea (WPS)  issue.


Speaking at a Sunday political rally in Tagum City, Alvarez urged the armed forces to withdraw their support from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to force him to step down and stop a possible war in the WPS.


READ: AFP, PNP reject Alvarez’s call to turn back on gov’t

But for Pimentel, the country’s leadership “should not be determined or left to be determined by the armed forces or any armed group.”

“The political leadership in the [Philippines] should be settled through honest elections,” he said in a message to reporters on Tuesday.

“Let us insulate our armed forces from politics so that they can develop into a more professional, disciplined, and inspired group,” the senator added.

At the same time, Pimentel said people should be allowed to express their opinions without fear of facing criminal charges in court.

“Let the people speak out. Do not deter or scare them from speaking out their sentiments on important issues,” he said.


READ: Alvarez to Marcos: Stop escalating WPS tension or yield presidency

The senator later directed his appeal to Alvarez to protect the armed forces from political matters while speaking out about the day’s burning issues.

The Senate Minority Leader likewise appealed to Surigao del Sur 2nd District Rep. Johnny Pimentel not to file criminal charges against Alvarez “so as to uphold and strengthen the right to free speech.”

The Surigao Del Sur congressman earlier commented that Alvarez’s call for withdrawing support from President Marcos was “tantamount to sedition or rebellion.”

Lanao del Norte 1st District Rep. Khalid Dimaporo, meanwhile, believes Alvarez’s remarks may warrant the filing of an ethics complaint against him.

Both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police have already rejected Alvarez’s call and instead vowed to protect the Constitution and follow the chain of command.

In a statement Tuesday, Alvarez said his call for the armed forces to withdraw their support from Marcos cannot be considered seditious.

According to the former speaker of the House of Representatives, his appeal is not the same as advocating a coup-d’état style of withdrawing support from the current administration because “ it was done in a peaceful and orderly manner.”

How can we consider that seditious or disorderly conduct when it was done in a peaceful and orderly manner? There is really dissatisfaction within the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), and in our history, they have done several coups before. That’s why I made an appeal, I swallowed my pride just to appeal that there be no exchange of gunfire, no tumultuous or public uprising, and no force or intimidation,” he said.

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“And if they will say that it is ‘outside of legal’ means, can’t the soldiers resign as a withdrawal of support if they no longer believe in the direction of the leadership? That’s their right, it is also a constitutionally protected right. It is stated in the 1987 Constitution: The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people and the State,” he added.


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