Press Release
March 13, 2006

Harsh punishments will not solve military restiveness, says Drilon

Senate President and Liberal Party head Franklin Drilon today warned that "harsh punishments through a repressive crackdown" would not quell restiveness within the military, adding that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) leadership "should start addressing the core causes of the soldiers grievances, instead of conveniently shooting the messengers."

"Imposing harsh punishments on these young and idealistic officers will not make the restiveness problem in the military go away," said Drilon.

He said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Generoso Senga should instead tackle the real issues behind the grievances of AFP officers and men.

"Perhaps, it is about time that the AFP leadership should now grab the bull by the horn, so to speak, and answer these difficult questions: Why is the military brass too politicized under the Arroyo administration? Did a group of generals really allow themselves to be used in committing election fraud in the 2004 elections as indicated in the Hello Garci tapes? Why cant Malacañang release the Mayuga report?" Drilon added.

Drilon was reacting to reports that the AFP leadership was poised to mete out harsh punishments on a group of military officers whom Malacañang claimed were coup plotters.

Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, chairman of the Senate defense committee, warned that the crackdown could only fan military "restiveness into action." He warned that the crackdown, if mishandled, could spell more trouble for a military whose members had grown more restive over allegations that key AFP officials were involved in election fraud in 2004.

Drilon noted that those implicated by Malacañang in the alleged coup, such as Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim of the Scout Rangers, Col. Ariel Querubin of the Philippine Marines and Chief Supt. Marcelo Franco of the Police Special Action Forces, were highly-decorated officers known for their idealism, integrity and honesty and enjoyed the respect of their peers.

"From what I hear, these officials simply reflect the idealism within the military," Drilon said.

"The talk in the military camps is that these officers share a common problem. That they still adhere blindly to the Philippine Military Academy Honor Code that states A cadet does not lie, cheat, steal nor tolerate among us those who do. This honor code, I am told, is the root cause of the prevailing restiveness within the military," Drilon added.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye earlier said President Arroyo was taking a hands-off policy vis-a-vis the crackdown. "The President and Commander in Chief leaves the AFP command and the major services to deal with the residual issues of military adventurism and destabilization," Bunye, adding that the crackdown was meant to "protect the state and maintain peace and order."

To ease the restiveness within the military, Drilon also said Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz must now release the so-called Mayuga Report that contained the probe findings of the AFP Inspector General on the alleged involvement of senior military officers in electoral fraud in Mindanao.

Drilon said President Arroyo and other Malacañang officials cannot pretend to hold a dialogue with restive military officials and, at the same time, withhold the Mayuga report.

The AFP Inspector Generals office was tasked to look into the senior military officials reportedly mentioned in the "Hello, Garci!" wiretap recordings. It was then headed by Rear Admiral Mateo Mayuga, currently the Navy Flag-Officer-in-Command.

Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. confirmed that he was reviewing the Mayuga report. He has declined to reveal its findings to the public.

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