Robredo: No need to use military ‘scare tactic’ for every policy
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo urged President Rodrigo Duterte not to threaten to deploy the military ahead of the 2022 elections.
This comes after Duterte broached the idea of using the military to ensure peace and order during the polls next May.
"The military is needed to protect us. I just don't know why the tone is as if the military is constantly being used to intimidate. They are being used to threaten," Robredo said in Filipino on her weekly show on radio dzXL.
"Every time we want something — every time we want to enforce a policy, we use the military…even in a pandemic. The military, they are professionals. I hope they are not used to intimidate the people."
The vice president was careful to acknowledge the role the military plays in enforcing the law and maintaining order in certain areas, but implored Duterte not to use them as a threat.
Election laws restrict the deployment of armed personnel as well as who among police and military personnel are authorized to carry firearms.
"Ever since, the military has always been there to help not only during the elections but all the time they are needed to maintain peace and order, they are there…When there is an election, they really help to maintain peace and order because there are really many in areas that are having problems," she said.
"But hopefully, don’t use your institution for intimidation anymore. Because for me, when I saw that, my only feeling was: 'what is that?…that's wrong.'"
Police and military to enforce policy
The president has relied heavily on the police and military to enforce policies, from the government's pandemic response to the government's campaigns against communism. Even the government's coronavirus task force has former military generals tasked with addressing a health crisis.
The president has said he prefers military and police officers because they obey orders and will get the job done.
Academics and rights organizations have pointed to the "dramatic militarization of civilian governance structures" that have led to heavy security-focused measures. Within the first month of the coronavirus-induced community quarantines in the Philippines — the longest in the world — Duterte went as far as warning quarantine violators that he would issue orders for strict military and police enforcement that he likened to martial law.
Duterte issued the same warning in the context of the elections — where he has declared he is running for vice president — during his visit to Sultan Kudarat on Friday as he pleaded for peace and order with armed groups in Mindanao.
“Either we have an election that is free or I will use the military to see that the election is free. The military is the guardian of our country and I could call them anytime to see to it that people are protected and elections are freely and orderly exercised,” Duterte said.
PNP: Continuous coordination with Comelec
Earlier Sunday, Police Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said in a statement sent to reporters that the PNP is continuously coordinating with the Commission on Elections and other agencies with regard to election security that includes identification of election hot spots and individuals and groups that may be tapped as goons of erring politicians.
The PNP chief also said that since coordination and interoperability with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other law enforcement agencies have been proven effective in the campaign against illegal drugs, the same level of cooperation will be used among concerned government agencies for election security.
"The PNP believes that in early preparation for next year's elections, we can be more certain that people and groups will not form their plans to sabotage the election for their personal interests," said Eleazar.
"We have further strengthened this by liaising with the AFP and other law enforcement agencies because ultimately, we are among those responsible to the people if we do not protect their voices in choosing leaders to lead our country."
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