DND chief to AFP: Don't meddle in politics

June 25, 2010 9:45 pm 

MANILA, June 25 – Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales on Friday bid farewell to the officers and men of the Armed Forces while reminding them not to meddle in what he said was the anticipated “not so normal” political environment in the coming months.

Gonzales, who vowed to play an active role in the political opposition in the coming administration of President Benigno Aquino III, told the officers and men of the Armed Forces to let politicians like him to talk about politics.

“I am anticipating that the political situation or the political environment of our country will still be not so normal. There will be a lot of political debates in the coming months,” Gonzales told thousands of officers and men, led by acting AFP chief Lt. Gen. Nestor Ochoa.

The Armed Forces accorded Gonzales with a testimonial review at the military’s general headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo. The military traditionally accords such review to departing top officials of the AFP and DND.

“While we politicians are busy debating, I think it is very important for the Armed Forces to remember that each time there is a disaster, in all the crying hours by our people, they normally would expect the helping hand of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” said Gonzales.

Gonzales, who is also the chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, said at least two typhoons are due to come and it was very important for the military to prepare how to respond to these calamities.

“When our people are in their crying moments, the helping hand that our people are expecting is up to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. You should deal with that properly. Don’t join the confusion that we create in the field of politics,” he said.

“Be with the people in times of their need, be there all the time. My only hope now is that the Armed Forces of the will remain united and true to its mandate because more than ever, you are needed by our countrymen,” said Gonzales.

On Thursday, Gonzales said he went to Cebu to enroll for an architecture course at the San Carlos University. Earlier, he said that if he does not join the opposition, he will take up a course on architecture. Taking back his earlier pronouncement, Gonzales said: “This does not mean that I will not be in the opposition. I will be a student and an opposition at the same time.” Nevertheless, he said he can cooperate with the coming administration if this will improve the quality of the people’s lives.

Gonzales said he was about to start listing a number of subject matters that he would advocate in the next administration as a “responsible opposition.” He assured that the first on his will be reform programs for the defense and military establishment.

After thanking and bidding farewell to the troops, Gonzales said: “Don't forget that you are the protector of the people. Love them the way they love you.”

In an ambush interview, Gonzales said the coming opposition would not be inflicting the same damage as the ones inflicted by the political opposition during the Arroyo administration.

When asked if the opposition during the Aquino government will be better than the one during the Arroyo government, Gonzales said: “Its hard to tell but what I can say is that the past opposition was wow, they made our lives difficult. I will not want to inflict that in the new one.”(PNA) RMA/VR

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