DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 April) — “What will we do in the religious sector if there is a major failure of elections?” Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla asked at the 5th BUC-PNP-AFP Forum for peace among the Bishops-Ulama Conference, Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“Things will happen only if people will allow things to happen,” Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit, Armed Forces Chief of Staff, said. PNP chief Jesus Versoza seconded.
But it was in his closing remarks where Bangit was most emphatic.
Saying the gateway to the future is “the credibility of this coming election,” Bangit said that as chief of staff, “ I have been asked on where I stand. I said: hindi na dapat kami tinatanong kung saan kami” (we shouldn’t even be asked on whose side we are).
Bangit said that when they entered the military service, they took an oath to defend the Constitution. “Therefore I am for the Constitution, as I have always been. This means that I am for credible elections. This also means that I will not support a junta or revolutionary government that are clearly unconstitutional. I am against martial law if declared contrary to the interest of our people and our Constitution. I will always be for what is right and what is good. And I am willing to fight for it with all that I have, just as I have pledged my life, my treasure, and my sacred honor in our oath as a Filipino soldier.”
Bangit added that along with his personal commitment, he was “committing each and every Filipino soldier who, like me, had taken the same oath . The AFP will always be on the side of the people. The AFP was not created to replace the voice of the people. The AFP was created to make sure that the people’s real voice is heard clearly.”
He said he had served under three Presidents and had seen “both the peaceful and bloody transitions of power and have seen Filipinos fight against their own countrymen.
Bangit said the country “has to move on and it has to do so now.”
“While the AFP guarantees to be on your side, we cannot do this alone. Failure of elections will happen only if people would allow it. Cheating will happen only if the people would allow. Therefore I coundton you as much as I count on our Filipino soldiers. Let us show the world that we deserve our democracy by working hard for it,” he said.
Versoza acknowledged that soldiers and policemen moonlighting as security personnel for politicians were used in past elections but the firearms control program and the implementation of joint security control centers are helping address that problem.
He said the PNP wants to “reach out to other government agencies that could help us in our concerns.”
“Come May 10, if we fail, it is our fault. If we succeed, weve done our duty for the country.” (COA/MindaNews)