Trillanes asks AFP: How do you deal with ‘lunatic’ president?
What will be the military’s actions in case a “lunatic” president uses and abuses the power given to him?
This was one of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s questions during the confirmation hearing of close to 200 military officials on Wednesday.
“Regarding that provision, the Armed Forces is the protector of the people and the state, there are actually practical applications of that,” Trillanes, a former Navy officer, said during the hearing of the Commission on Appointment’s committee on national defense.
“Can I ask you sir regarding this hypothetical situation? If the Commander in Chief, the duly elected president would ask, out of a whim, the military to shoot all the civilians, what would now be the action of the Armed Forces in case such an order is given?” he said, directing his question to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.
Padilla said the situation was manifested during the first people power revolt in 1986 that led to the ouster of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
“Based on history, the military never fired a shot because within the ranks of the military leadership, a serious debate was conducted,” the spokesperson said.
Trillanes then asked if all situations would be dealt with on a case to case basis, to which Padilla answered: “I would suppose, sir.”
“Because Edsa II happened also and the leadership of the Armed Forces withdrew their support against an incumbent president or a duly elected president,” the senator said, apparently referring to another people power in 2001, this time, against then president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
“So it’s clear to the Armed Forces in case you have a lunatic for a president in the future—it’s just a hypothetical situation—who will now use and abuse the power given to him and assume that the Armed Forces will just follow every order given to them. So it’s reassuring to hear that, sir,” Trillanes added.
Before this, Sen. Gringo Honasan also asked Padilla if it was clear to the military that they were not a “Praetorian Guard” of any administration.
“Klaro na ba yun na ang AFP ay hindi Praetorian Guard o private security agency ng kahit na sinong administration? Is that clear enough to you and I suppose to your subordinates as it written in the Constitution?” Honasan, also a former military officer, asked.
“Because prospectively, we may be faced with a situation where we have to address the issue of Charter change and I guess your Congress as representatives of the people will need inputs from you para malinaw na malinaw na yan,” he added.
Responding to Honasan, Padilla said: “Yes, it’s very clearly enshrined in the Constitution and written clearly to our understanding.”
“May I cite a case in point where our understanding was manifested in action? May I cite the recent election? We said we were nonpartisan and we support the will of the people and we protected the ballots that were cast so our duty is not merely to a certain individual or a personality but our duty is entirely to the whole country and its citizens.”
“That’s why in the recent elections and the elections of the past where we have manifested our actions, we protected with our lives if need be the sanctity of the ballot because this is the voice of the people. That, sir, I think is the way I could explain our understanding of what is enshrined in the Constitution,” the spokesperson said. RC
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