Saturday, March 04, 2006

No free speech for soldiers?

Hindi ba covered ng Bill of Righs ang mga sundalo? Hindi ba sila Pilipino? Mukhang nananakot lang itong gobyerno. O di kaya natatakot na?

No free speech for soldiers—Cruz
First posted 04:17am (Mla time) Mar 04, 2006
By Dona Z. Pazzibugan

SOLDIERS have no right to “free speech. for as long as they carry guns, Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. said yesterday.

He also dared disgruntled soldiers to resign before making their sentiments known.

Cruz's challenge came after three senior military officials were implicated in a plan by some officers to withdraw support from President Macapagal-Arroyo.

"A soldier is given the right by the government to carry a gun but in exchange he surrenders his right to free speech," Cruz said in a news conference in Camp Aguinaldo right after Ms Arroyo announced the lifting of the national emergency proclamation.

"If you want to join politics, you have to give up your gun. You can not be carrying a gun and joining politics at the same time," Cruz added.

"Give up your gun and resign from the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] before you join political discussions. But as long as you are a member of the military and you carry a gun, you surrender your right to air your sentiments," went on Cruz, a lawyer who is only the third civilian to head the defense department in the last three decades.

Cruz also vowed that the military would prosecute "habitual delinquents" who violate their oath of loyalty to the chain of command.

Brig. Danilo Lim and Col. Ariel Querubin, founders of the Young Officers Union that staged the 1989 coup d'etat against the Aquino administration, were relieved as commander of the First Scout Rangers Regiment and the First Marine Brigade, respectively for reportedly planning to join anti-Arroyo rallies at Edsa last week.

Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda was also unceremoniously relieved as Marine commandant for allegedly failing to keep his men in check.

As of yesterday, there has been no clear pronouncement that Lim and Querubin would be subjected to court martial.

Cruz said the military leadership is bent on letting the military justice system take its course against all erring officers.

He said Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Generoso Senga has formed a fact-finding body to investigate Lim and Querubin, who led a standoff at the Marines headquarters in Fort Bonifacio last Sunday to protest Miranda's relief.

"The leadership of the AFP and the DND [Department of National Defense] is not having second thoughts about letting the military justice system take its course because this will not end if we do not let the military justice system ... go to work," said Cruz.

"We will deal with those habitual delinquents who do not respect the Constitution under the military justice system," he added.

He said this administration would not give rebel soldiers amnesty as was extended by the Ramos administration to those who staged a series of bloody coup d'etat against the Aquino administration.

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