AFP Chief assures: military mandated to secure country; not threaten people

Marje Pelayo   •   February 5, 2021   •   728

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt.Gen. Cirilito Sobejana underscored that the military is instituted to secure the country and serve its people, and not to threaten anyone.

“The reason of our existence is serving the people and securing the land, no threatening among our constituents,” Sobejena said.

“Paano kami magiging effective public servant if we threaten them, unless they are identified as enemies of the state,” he added.

Sobejana made the statement in connection to the possible lawsuit that National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Spokesperson Lt. General Antonio Parlade plans to file against a reporter of Inquirer.Net.

Sobejena, however, said that whatever Parlade says as spokesperson of NTF-ELCAC also reflects the stand of the AFP as he is an officer of the military.

“We will discuss this matter together. He is part of the armed forces pero for now, nadesignate siya as spokesperson, reflective pa rin sa organization. That’s why we need to discuss all these things para ma thresh out natin lahat,” the AFP Chief of Staff said.

The issue stemmed from a Facebook post of Gen. Parlade accusing Inquirer.net journalist Tech Torres-Tupas of being a propagandist when the latter featured a story involving a petition in the Supreme Court that was filed by an Aeta tribe against the military for allegedly torturing them.

In the said post, Parlade denied the incident and threatened to charge the journalist in court for supporting the terrorists by spreading false information. MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Duterte appoints Antonio Parlade to Nat’l Security Council

Robie de Guzman   •   September 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed retired military general Antonio Parlade as deputy director general of the National Security Council (NSC), Malacañang said Thursday.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that the president signed Parlade’s appointment on Sept. 8.

Parlade retired as head of the military’s Southern Luzon Command in July.

“Deputy Director-General Parlade faithfully served the Armed Forces of the Philippines for many years until his retirement from the service,” Roque said.

“We are therefore confident that his length of fruitful service in the military would immensely contribute in the crafting of plans and policies affecting national security,” he added.

Parlade previously served as spokesperson for the government’s Task Force in Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict.

He became controversial for his remarks linking some organizers of community pantries to the communist group. Some senators even called for his resignation and proposed defunding the task force over the issue.

In a separate statement, Parlade thanked Duterte for the “renewed trust and confidence.”

“Another opportunity to continue serving our people in a different capacity. Time to take care of unfinished business,” he said.

‘Not justified’: Palace nixes proposal to defund NTF-ELCAC

Robie de Guzman   •   April 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday opposed calls of some lawmakers to defund the government’s counterinsurgency task force.

In a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the proposal of some senators to defund the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is “unjustified” since it uses its funds to help develop local communities.

“Ang pagkakaalam ko po yung pondo ng ELCAC ay para po sa mga proyekto na magbibigay ng asenso at progreso sa mga lugar na mayroon pang rebelde” he said.

“So sa akin po, hindi naman po justified yan,” he added.

Roque said the task force should be allowed to perform its duties as long as there is a clear policy for its actions.

Some senators issued the call after NTF-ELCAC’s spokesperson Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. said that they are checking the background of community pantry organizers following reports that communist groups are using these initiatives to spread their propaganda against the government.

Roque also reiterated that President Rodrigo Duterte supports the community pantry initiatives and that such effort should continue to help those in need amid the coronavirus pandemic.

When asked if the Palace will restrain Parlade from issuing any more statements against community pantry organizers, Roque said he would reach out to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on the matter since Parlade reports to him.

COVID-19 inoculation mandatory but soldiers can choose brand – AFP spox

Robie de Guzman   •   February 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The vaccination of military personnel against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will be mandatory although the soldiers can choose which brand to receive, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Thursday.

In a virtual press briefing, AFP Spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo said all soldiers will be obliged to get inoculated as ordered by AFP chief of staff Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana.

The directive came even as the military has yet to ascertain where its vaccine supply will be coming from, or if they are among those who will receive the first 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines donated by the Chinese government.

“Ang Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas po is not like any ordinary organizations. Tayo po ay nasa service-orientated organization. Tayo po ang inaasahan sa napakaraming mabibigat na tungkulin kagaya nga po ng pagharap sa pandemya as early as 2020. Kaya sinabi natin na hindi opsyon ang pag-ayaw. Subalit kinikilala natin yung kanilang kagustuhan ng brand na gusto nila” he said.

Military personnel who will be choosing other brands of the vaccine will need to pay for their own jabs, Arevalo said.

Those who refuse to get vaccinated will face sanctions under military rules, he added.

“We are an organization under military regulations. So, ang pagtupad sa mga regulasyon o sa mga tinatadhana ng existing legal orders buhat sa ating mga superiors just like this one from the AFP Chief of Staff, no less, will be dealt with disciplinary actions kung hindi nila susundin,” he said.

“But we are confident na hindi na tayo darating sa punto na iyon,” he added.

The AFP said all its employees and troops assigned in the medical and healthcare units will be the first to get inoculated against COVID-19.

The donated Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines from China are expected to arrive in the country this weekend. RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

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