Expressing dismay at what he said were "attempts to destroy" the military, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Delfin Bangit on Monday broke his silence and stood firm against those prodding him to relinquish his post.
At a press conference, Bangit said he could not abandon his duties and maintained he serves at the pleasure of the Armed Forces' commander-in-chief, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Addressing Edwin Lacierda, the spokesperson of presidential frontrunner Sen. Benigno Aquino III who called on the AFP chief to step down, Bangit said those calling for his resignation do not know what they are talking about.
"They should know and understand that a soldier is either relieved, reassigned, or has to stand to his post if his superiors want him to stay. A soldier filing a resignation is abdication of duty in our Articles of War, particularly Article 58, and that [resigning] is punishable under our system," Bangit said.
"So long as I am here, I will be the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. I will fight any side that drags the Armed Forces into politics," he added.
He likewise said he would remain as AFP chief "until the next Congress," citing President Arroyo's order.
Prior to Monday's press briefing, Bangit admitted he thought about resigning because the AFP leadership was being "politicized" and that some 300 military officers were supposedly denied confirmation by the Commission on Appointments because of him.
He added he was "too ashamed" that the AFP was dragged into politics after working hard to remain non-partisan in the recently concluded May 10 automated polls.
"I therefore decided that I should go if that is what will keep the Armed Forces intact. Yesterday, instead of doing that, I decided to fight for the institution because I feel that everytime they are hurting me, they are hurting our institution. I came to realize that it is no longer me, this is no longer just about General Bangit, whom they doubt despite contrary evidence," he said.
The doubts Bangit referred to concerned questions about his independence from the appointing authority, with which he shares close ties.
A member of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1978, Bangit is perceived to be close to President Arroyo. The outgoing commander-in-chief is an honorary member of Bangit's class. Bangit is scheduled to retire on July 31 next year.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who is ex-officio chair of Commission on Appointments, earlier said Bangit would have to relinquish his post after the commission adjourned last Friday without confirming his appointment. — Sophie Regina M. Dedace/RJAB Jr./RSJ, GMANews.TV
Reposted From Sophie Regina M. Dedace Of GMA News.TV