COMMENTARY: Open Letter to Lt. Gen. Alexander Yano. By Edwin G. Espejo

You are still, I believe, a professional soldier and a gentleman.  And you will be the next Chief of Staff of the AFP come May 9 (or May 8) as you recently told ANC anchors Tony Velasquez and Pia Hontiveros.

You were, along with then AFP chief of staff Gen. Generoso Senga, one of the two generals for whom your mutinous soldiers of the Oakwood incident kept their high regard because of your professionalism and untainted career in the military service.  Some of those 'errant' men, at one time, served under your organizational and administrative command.

You said you have always followed the chain of command and will abide by your sworn duty to protect and defend the duly constituted authorities.

Soon, you will be next in line to the commander in chief and will be on the spot where few other officers were before.

When presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada were ousted from power, your senior officers then withdrew their support from the duly constituted authorities amid massive protest actions from the people.  You did not break the chain of command because you were then down the hierarchy of the military institution.

Now that you are about to takeover as chief of staff of the Armed Forces, you have been reiterating the sworn constitutional mandate of the military establishment.  We find nothing wrong with that.  In fact, under normal circumstances, that is what is expected from professional soldiers like you.

You said the last thing our democracy need is for the military to intervene in political crises as this will weaken our democratic institutions.  You are nowhere more correct and you deserve our salute.  

But, sir, when the duly constituted authorities are the very same people that are weakening our democratic institutions and have become instruments in covering up crimes committed against the people, will the Armed Forces of the Philippines still protect them?

When avenues and institutions for people to seek redress of grievances are corrupted and co-opted by a regime bent on perpetuating themselves in power, will the Armed Forces still follow the chain of command headed by the commander in chief who has lost the moral ascendancy to govern?

The Armed Forces need not intervene in political questions.  I agree.  But only militarily.

What the people expect from the men and women in uniform is to be politically sensitive to the challenges of our times.

They need not participate nor intervene.  All they have to do is abide by the sworn duties to protect the people at all times, even if it means repudiating duly instituted government authorities who have betrayed the people. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Edwin G. Espejo was former editor in chief of SunStar General Santos)