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AFP says it braced for possibility of House feud getting out of hand

Gilbert Gapay

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 13) — The chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said it was gearing up for the possibility that the speakership squabble at the House of Representative could get “out of hand.”

AFP Chief General Gilbert Gapay made this statement in a forum Tuesday morning, before 186 lawmakers reaffirmed their votes to elect Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco as House Speaker within the halls of Congress. This made Velasco’s election official, and was followed by Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano’s resignation as leader of the lower chamber.

Gapay said certain groups took advantage of the House leadership crisis, which lasted for weeks, to “destabilize the country and discredit the government.”

“Maraming sumasakay e. Minsan nagiging political roadshow na ito e. 2022 is just around the corner and some factions are starting to posture for 2022,” Gapay said in an online forum hosted by the Foreign Correspondents of the Philippines.

[Treanslation: There are those riding-on (the house speakership squabble). Sometimes, its turning into a political roadshow. 2022 is just around the corner and some factions are starting to posture for 2022.]

Gapay did not specify what particular actions government forces were preparing to take, but pointed out that his role is to ensure the organization remained “united” and the military leadership “intact”.

The AFP chief, whose nomination to four-star general was confirmed by the Commission on Appointments more than a month ago, cited the military’s “very crucial” role in the country’s political upheavals, including the People Power revolutions, serving as the “tipping point” during these crises.

“In case of doubt, we always go back and refer to our oath, sworn duty to really uphold the constitution and protect the welfare of our people– which has always been our guidepost when confronted by that situation,” Gapay said.

The military will serve as a “go-between,” keeping an eye that the House showdown “will not result in any violence or disorder,” he added, pointing out that the AFP’s role in times of political instability is “to protect the general welfare, ensure peace and order (and) that constitutional processes and legal processes are followed.”

By David Santos, CNN Philippines