Press Release
January 26, 2008


Senator Mar Roxas welcomed the reported appointments of retired Supreme Court associate justice Jose Melo as chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Army General Alexander Yano as the incoming Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

"If these reports are true then I welcome these appointments. I am very confident that Justice Melo will uphold the same courage and professionalism when he issued the report on extrajudicial killings and that General Yano will effectively remove the stigma of partisanship in the AFP," Senator Roxas said.

The senator pointed out that the two appointments were the result of fruitful conversations between the executive branch and civil society and based on the credibility and qualifications of the two appointees.

"As champions of human rights, both Chairman Melo and AFP Chief of Staff Yano will play a key role in preparing for honest, clean and peaceful elections in 2010," Roxas added.

On Melo' s appointment, Roxas said: "Siya'y mahusay, matalino, may integridad at maganda ang kanyang mga desisyon para sa taumbayan. Ito ang kanyang dadalhin sa kanyang bagong tungkulin sa pagiging Comelec Chairman."

"Marami siyang aayusin sa Comelec, marami siyang mga reporma na dadalhin sa Comelec. Sana, sa kanyang pagka-hirang bilang Comelec Chairman ay agad-agad at pursigido niyang gagawin ang lahat ng ito."

The Liberal Party President said he is against the extension of AFP Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon for a few more months. "It damages morale and undermines efforts to professionalize the military. Effectively, the President is saying that she trusts only him to hold the reins of power now, that the state's security is dependent on his continuing on."

In media interviews right after an EVAT Forum held at Balay Kalinaw at UP Diliman, Roxas said, "Hindi ito laban kay General Esperon pero mahalaga na ipakita natin ang tiwala sa institusyon, hindi sa personalidad. Kaya para sa akin, tutal, 3-4 months lang ito - pumili na lang ang Pangulo ng isang highly qualified professional officer.

"Ang mensahe ng extension ay parang nakasalalay kay General Esperon ang katahimikan ng bansa, nakasalalay sa kanya yung laban kontra sa mga rebelde at terorista. That's not right. We have an AFP that is professional and very competent. I am sure that there are many others who can ably fill his shoes."

Roxas gave four reasons against Esperon's extension:

The AFP is a deeply hierarchical organization whose morale depends on officers moving up the career ladder in a regular and predictable way. Ever since the martial law years, extensions of generals have acquired the stigma of politics. If the reason for extension is a destabilization threat, it may even aggravate such threat rather than contain it. An extension projects an AFP that lacks a pool of professional leaders at the top. Parang "bata-bata" system. Hindi maganda para sa security ng bayan ito.

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