Is the AFP “decent” enough to launch a coup against the duly-elected gov’t?

In his recent Rappler article “Where have all the decent PMA graduates gone?”, retired Colonel Dennis Acop as a West Point graduate should have been able to present his argument better. This is the point Alcop ultimately makes…

Unlike the Marcos regime, the Duterte administration is full of graduates of the PMA, not only in the armed forces and police force but also in the entire government. Active-duty or retired, PMA alumni whose alma mater values are courage, integrity, and loyalty to country, lead the Duterte government.

It is worth reminding them of their inviolate mission: protect the people, protect the state – from all threats, foreign or domestic. Now more than ever.

In truth, the definition of decent is based on the “indecency” of the incumbent President. This ranges from his misogyny, his indecent behavior towards China and the indecency of the government’s pandemic response. Ramos indeed managed to pacify the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) after his election as President. But he also brought to fore the leftist-militant groups, the leaders of some of which are now party-list representatives in the House of Representatives. The rightists in the AFP took the same route. Gringo Honasan was elected Senator. Other Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) members ran for local positions and won. Those who weren’t favored simply faded away as old soldiers are wont to do. They were the true patriots who upheld the motto of the PMA.

The AFP again mounted a coup, together with the civilian leadership, when it ousted President Joseph “Erap” Estrada in 2001. The late former AFP Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes was rewarded handsomely along with other officers who joined what was an unpopular revolt. Some grew powerful enough to establish fiefdoms. We all know how Angie met his ignominious end. Suicide when he couldn’t accept the betrayal of those whom he thought to have served so well.

The AFP has managed to overhaul its image in the interim. It enjoys a better reputation after the scandals exposed during the administration of President Gloria Arroyo which were the results of fratricidal infighting. These created the monster that is the Magdalo Group of dissident soldiers led by Antonio Trillanes who staged the unsuccessful Oakwood mutiny and initially enjoyed public support from the public who felt they were robbed of their votes for Erap and the late Fernando Poe Jr (FPJ) who ran against Arroyo and lost in the 2004 presidential elections.

Now Acop comes forth with his essay making it appear that the AFP is again duty-bound to fulfill its obligation as the protector and defender of the Filipino people against a duly-elected President. Members of the Opposition are both hypocrites and slaves of their own double-standard. The Opposition again claims the moral high ground similar to when it fought former President Ferdinand Marcos. What we have seen and experienced was the exact opposite when they came to power.

President Rodrigo Duterte was by no means clinging to power when he raised the salaries of policemen and soldiers. This was long overdue. He also made sure they are better-equipped unlike before when they didn’t even have decent combat uniforms. The President has made it clear to the opposition that he will step down when the Secretary of National Defense, the Chief of Staff and the heads of the major service commands ask him to do so. No bloodshed.

It is now up to Acop to convince the AFP Officers Corps and the Secretary of National Defense to follow his lead. After that he or they, should be prepared for the public backlash. The public certainly will not take this sitting down.

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