PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to refrain from taking sides in the mid-term elections next year.
In a speech before the Philippine Army turnover of command ceremonies, Duterte also assured the public that there would be an election “and it would be an honest one.”
“Let us make a deal here to make a commitment to the Filipino people. This election, strictly neutral tayong lahat,” Duterte said Monday.
“The Armed Forces, the police and the uniformed personnel of the government, I am asking you not to indulge in partisan politics,” he added.
Duterte indicated that he would endorse and campaign for certain candidates but those in the armed forces should not.
“Wala tayong susuportahan. Yung mga kandidato ko, ako lang,” Duterte said.
Duterte said government funds would not be used in the campaign of administration-backed candidates including his trusted aide Bong Go.
“Nobody but nobody can use government resources. Not even Bong. I will not allow. As a friend, I can invite him,” Duterte said.
Duterte witnessed the turnover of command between the retiring Lieutenant General Rolando Bautista and new Army commanding general Major General Macairog Alberto.
Duterte again mentioned the forthcoming appointment of Bautista as secretary of social welfare and development.
He also cited the supposed accomplishments of the former military men in his Cabinet to justify his decision to appoint yet another retired officer to his official family.
Duterte said former military officers Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council chair Eduardo Del Rosario were appointed to their posts because they are honest and competent.
“Let me just make it clear to everybody, many are questioning me... ‘Why do you choose military or police retired?’ Well, I choose them because they are honest and competent,” Duterte said.
“Kung hindi ko nilagay si Del Rosario dyan matapos kaya ang Marawi on time..? Kung hindi si Cimatu at Año, malinis pa kaya ang Boracay?” he added.