AFP keeps distance from brewing row between presidential aspirants Parlade, Go

Published November 15, 2021, 2:54 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday, Nov. 15, refused to engage in the controversy surrounding presidential aspirants retired Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. and incumbent Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

Col. Ramon Zagala, spokesperson of Armed Forces of the Philippines (File photo from Philippine Army)

“The AFP is and will remain non-partisan. Our mandate is clear. Our task is to ensure the peace and security of the elections and allow the will of the Filipino people to manifest and prevail,” said AFP spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala.

This was echoed by the Philippine Army (PA) leadership which maintained that they will remain to be non-partisan in the forthcoming 2022 national and local elections.

“We refrain from indulging our personnel to participate in any political activity and actions of our political aspirants and candidates in order for us to assist in the conduct of a just, safe, peaceful, and orderly election,” Army spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad stated.

The two military spokespersons issued the statements in response to Parlade’s controversial remark that Go “was part of the country’s problem” and the AFP knows about it.

Parlade, former commander of the Army’s Southern Luzon Command (COLCOM) and spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for presidency as a substitute for a certain Antonio Valdes under the Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino (KDP) party to challenge other presidential bets which include Go.

“I cannot align with Senator Bong Go. Kasama siya sa problema ng bayan natin (He is part of our country’s problems). I will not explain. Ask the AFP why,” said Parlade, who has since been appointed as a deputy director general at the National Security Council (NSC) since his retirement in July of this year.

However, the AFP did not provide an explanation as to what Parlade may be referring to.

But back in 2018, Go, a long-time assistant of President Duterte before he turned into a politician, was embroiled in the controversial acquisition of two frigates by the Philippine Navy (PN) which was worth P16 billion.

The issue stemmed from Go’s alleged intervention in choosing the combat management system (CMS), which serves as the “brain” of a ship as it reintegrates all of its sensors and weapons system, for the Navy’s Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP).

Go’s alleged hand in the program had been denied by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and retired Navy chiefs Ronald Joseph Mercado and Robert Empedrad who were directly involved in the acquisition project.