Sunday, 13 June 2010

Arroyo tough act to follow — Bangit

by Joyce Pangco Pañares
With Florante Solmerin
Manila Standard
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideNation.htm?f=2010/june/12/nation1.isx&d=2010/june/12

President Gloria Arroyo capped the last testimonial parade the military held in her honor, with a subtle admonition to her successor not to cause the Armed Forces to become polarized or politicized.

“Indeed, I fervently hope that the progress we have made will not stop. I hope that what remains to be done will be picked up by the next generation of leaders,” Mrs. Arroyo said. “From a fractionalized organization whose members were in varying degrees of politicization, the AFP is now a truly professional organization.”

Mrs. Arroyo asked her successor to continue the programs she has started to modernize the Armed Forces as well as to insulate the military from partisan politics.

The outgoing president took pains to define a professional soldier which she said the next administration should continue to nurture. “A professional soldier is not politicized. Instead, he follows the chain of command in war or peace to the point of offering his life.”

Her admonition came amid report of widespread demoralization in the military after President-elect Benigno Aquino announced his plan not to recognize the Armed Forces chief whom his predecessor appointed along with 300 other military officers Mrs. Arroyo promoted before she steps down on June 30.

Bangit, for his part, called on the entire uniformed service to unite behind Aquino even as he challenged the next administration to surpass what Mrs. Arroyo has achieved.

“As professional soldiers, you will and you should obey them. But they will not be able to erase President Arroyo’s contributions until they have exceeded her accomplishments,” Bangit said.

Following Aquino’s reported plan to name a new military chief Bangit said he was considering an early retirement even as his tour of duty is good until July 21, 2011 when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56.

His plan to retire has triggered a jockeying for the top military post.

Atleast six senior generals have been casting a moist eye on Bangit’s post but sources said the choice would be toss-up between Army chief Reynaldo Mapagu and Lt. Gen. Ricardo David, chief of the Northern Luzon Command.

A potential contender Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, the administrator of martial law in Maguindanao province, appeared content to becoming Army chief, the sources said.

The contenders will have to be screened by the board of generals headed by Bangit, which will then recommend a few names to the Defense secretary.

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