Pimentel to Alvarez: Leave AFP out of politics

By Wilnard Bacelonia

April 16, 2024, 2:24 pm Updated on April 16, 2024, 5:10 pm

<p><em>(Courtesy of AFP Facebook)</em></p>

(Courtesy of AFP Facebook)

MANILA – Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Tuesday reminded Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez that the political leadership in the Philippines should be determined through honest elections, and not by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or any armed group.

"Let us insulate our armed forces from politics so that they can develop into a more professional, disciplined, and inspired group," Pimentel said in a statement.

However, he also emphasized that people should be allowed to speak out on important issues without fear of criminal cases.

Pimentel urged House Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel not to file criminal cases against Alvarez "so as to uphold and strengthen the right to free speech and to assemble with people of similar positions in the burning issues of the day."

Alvarez recently urged the AFP to withdraw support for President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., presumably to head off a conflict with China over the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Alvarez said he was merely exercising his right to free speech.

For Senator Jinggoy Estrada, Alvarez’s sentiments were “uncalled for” as President Marcos “is on the right track” in dealing with the WPS issue.

"Kakausapin mo ang China, eh paulit-ulit lang sila, binu-bully tayo eh (You talk to China, and they just keep on doing things, they are bullying us). We have to give attention to our allies already," Estrada said.

"That just shows that he [President Marcos] will not give up even a square inch of our territory in the West Philippine Sea. He is doing everything to preserve our territory and national sovereignty," he said.

President Marcos earlier met with US President Joe Biden and Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in a historic trilateral summit in Washington, D.C.

Marcos said the Philippines’ trilateral alliance with the US and Japan would provide “continuing defense” of international law amid the growing tensions in the Sount China Sea.

Meanwhile, Estrada said he is more than willing to probe over the alleged "gentleman's agreement" of former president Rodrigo R. Duterte with China if the resolution filed by Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros will be referred to his committee.


Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., meanwhile, assured that the military stands steadfast in upholding the Constitution under Marcos’ leadership.

“Any attempt to sway them away from this duty or to patronize them to support a partisan agenda is futile, particularly when this agenda dovetails with a foreign interest contrary to our own national interests,” Teodoro said in a statement Tuesday.

He added calls for the military to “withdraw support” from the current leadership will only result in a possible criminal investigation.

The Philippine Navy (PN) also took exception to Alvarez's remarks, reiterating its unwavering loyalty to the chain of command.

In a statement, the Navy said it has ordered the 9th Marine Brigade to conduct an investigation and ask Alvarez, a Marine reservist, to explain his statements.

It added that the result of this investigation will be the "basis of the Navy's actions moving forward".

"The Navy will continue to uphold the rule of law – ensuring security and stability as guardians of our seas. One AFP, One Philippines, Strong AFP, Strong Philippines," the PN said. (with Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)