• Help ensure peaceful polls, Aquino asks AFP

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    PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Friday challenged security forces to ensure that the May 9 elections will be peaceful and orderly.

    Aquino, the military’s Commander-in-Chief, attended a ceremony marking the retirement of Gen. Hernando Iriberri in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Friday but did not name a successor to the outgoing AFP chief of staff, who turned 56.

    Iriberri’s mandatory retirement came at a time when appointments are banned because of the local and national elections next month.

    Without a replacement for Iriberri, the AFP will be led by an acting chief of staff until the next President names a new one after assuming office in June.

    In his speech, Aquino said he is constitutionally barred from appointing a new AFP chief, which is why Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda is only taking over the AFP in an acting capacity, being the AFP vice chief of staff.

    But the President expressed confidence that Miranda will continue Iriberri’s program, especially for peaceful elections.

    “Ngayon nga po, bagaman hindi na tayo makakapagtalaga ng Chief of Staff dahil sa mga pamantayan ng Saligang Batas, tiwala pa rin tayo na ang papalit kay General Iriberri ay maipagpapatuloy ang maganda niyang nasimulan, sa nalalabing mga buwan ng ating termino [While I cannot appoint a Chief of Staff because of the constitutional prohibition, I am confident that the successor of General Iriberri will continue the good things that he had started, in the remaining months of my term],” Aquino said.

    “Magiging acting Chief of Staff si Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, na kilala sa pagiging mapanuri at maparaan bilang strategist at sundalo [Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, who is known as a thorough strategist and soldier, will be the acting Chief of Staff],” he added.

    In response, Miranda assured that the military will remain apolitical in the May 9 elections.

    “Our country is nearing one of its finest moments, national and local elections a few days from now. Your AFP is committed to achieving orderly and peaceful conduct of these coming elections,” said Miranda, who assumed his post 17 days before the polls.

    “As oftenly said, the AFP will remain apolitical and stretch its means to contribute to this end,” he added.

    Miranda, Iriberri’s Philippine Military Academy 1983 classmate, was former commander of the AFP’s Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom).

    Before he was Nolcom chief, he had served as commanding general of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division in Nueva Ecija province.

    He also led the Army’s 25th Infantry Battalion, 1002nd Brigade.

    Miranda was also a Dean of Academics of the AFP Command and General Staff College and later on the General Headquarters and Headquarters Service Command at Camp Aguinaldo, the military’s general headquarters located in Quezon City.

    A Scout Ranger, a paratrooper, an infantry and an intelligence officer, he has a master’s degree in National Security and Business Administration.

    Miranda is the 7th and final AFP chief appointed by Aquino, who steps down on June 30.

    Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had 11 chiefs of staff in her nine years in office.

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