By Francis Wakefield
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reminded soldiers to remain apolitical during next year’s elections.
In a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Lorenzana warned soldiers they will be punished out if they will be proven to be meddling in politics.
Lorenzana said the mission of both the military and the police is to ensure “Honest, Orderly and Peaceful Elections.”
“If the military in an area will attempt to side with one candidate, you are tilting actually the odds in favor of that candidate. Even by giving him security for his safety sometimes that could also be misinterpreted,” he said.
Lorenzana said when he was the brigade commander in General Santos during the 1998 elections, when the life of one candidate was in danger, both he and his opponent were given security.
He said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should approve first a candidate’s request for security before it is granted to them.
Lorenzana also said candidates can visit military camps to campaign there. Soldiers could also take photos with candidates as long as they do not campaign for them.
“The candidates can visit us because they are candidates. They can talk to the people, they can assemble the people, talk to them. We will allow any candidate to get into the camps to talk to the people,” he said.
“We have a weekly troop education and information seminar every Saturday morning. They (candidates) can go there, they can pitch in their program,” he added.
“We will not say to them that ‘We will vote for you.’ We’ll just listen,” he added.