Recent allegations by key leaders of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) regarding a supposed plot to oust the President would be laughable if they were not so dangerous. For while the claims themselves are absolutely ridiculous, the attempt to delegitimize various opposition groups and personalities by linking them to an alleged extra-constitutional “plot” is alarming.
A free, independent, and critical opposition plays an indispensable role in our democracy. It provides a necessary check on an incumbent administration – keeping it honest, responsive, and accountable – ultimately ensuring better governance and better service to our people. This is a principle protected and enshrined in our Constitutionally guaranteed rights to free speech and to petition the government for redress of grievances. Our men and women in the AFP took the same oath as me to uphold and defend the Constitution. Our first responsibility is to maintain fidelity to this commitment, regardless of any personal affiliations.
Baseless allegations that link my involvement in legitimate opposition activities with illegal actions, particularly when they come from high ranking military officials, undermine not just the opposition but also our democracy. They politicize the AFP, subvert Constitutional protections, and weaken a crucial mechanism for ensuring public accountability.
We must recall that branding critics as criminals was the same draconian tactic employed by the Martial Law Regime to strip the opposition of its voice. And that this silencing of the opposition was a prelude to establishing a regime of corruption, abuse, and dictatorship.
Our men and women in the AFP must be reminded of their sworn duty: protect our people, defend our democracy and uphold our Constitution.