PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Sunday reminded personnel of various uniformed services, particularly the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to shun lust for power and to keep neutral at all times, especially in politics.
“Tandaan lang po natin, tanging Sandatahang Lakas lang ang may puwersa, na kung makikihalo, lalo na sa pulitika, ay may tinatawag pong ‘monopoly of power.’ Tila hindi ho parehas ang usapan, kaya importanteng nasa isip natin parating neutral tayo, lalo na pagdating sa pamumulitika (Always remember, only the Armed Forces has the capability of what we call monopoly of power if it wades into politics. That is why it is important that you remain neutral at all times,)” Aquino said in his speech during the graduation of the Philippine Military Academy GABAY-LAYA Class of 2016 in Baguio Ciy.
The President, in an apparent reference to martial law, said the military should never again be used in such an “experiment.”
“Nangyari po sa ating kasaysayan ang isang eksperimento, kung saan minsan kayong kinasangkapan para sikilin ang demokrasya at maipatupad ang mga kapritso ng iisang pamilya (You have been used in an experiment to stifle democracy for the whims of one family),” added Aquino, alluding to the family of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
For the members of the graduating class, Aquino advised them to prepare for “temptations” that will come their way once out of the PMA. He told them to follow the footsteps of their “elders” or senior PMA alumni.
“Tanungin ninyo ang inyong sarili, ang gagawin ko ba ay makakatulong sa sambayanan, o yung mangyayari rito, iilan lang ang makikinabang at makapapahamak sa mas nakakarami? Sa mga panahong may agam-agam kayo sa inyong gagawin, tanawin ninyo ang ginawa ng mga nakakatanda sa inyo (Ask yourself will my action benefit the nation? When you are in doubt, look back and see what your elders did),” he pointed out.
Aquino also told the young officers to respect civilian authority as provided under the Constitution.
He noted that under Article 2, Section 3,“ civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military.”
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people and the State. Its goal is to secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory,” he said.
Several graduates of the PMA had participated in previous military uprisings from the time of the late President Corazon Aquino up to the administration of former President and now Pampanga representative Gloria Arroyo.
Among the most prominent putschists are Gregorio Honasan and Antonio Trillanes 4th. Both are incumbent senators.
In his speech, Aquino cited the reforms his administration has initiated in the Department of National Defense, specifically the implementation of the AFP Modernization Program that saw the coming in of brand new and refurbished aircraft, sea vessels, firearms and other defense equipment.
Aquino boasted that his government already completed 68 “big ticket” projects for the AFP with a total project value of P58.43 billion.