AFP ORDERED TO ENFORCE ABSOLUTE NON-PARTISANSHIP IN MAY POLLS

MANILA, May 8, 2004 (STAR) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Saturday has ordered Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to enforce absolute non-partisanship in the coming elections.

In a statement, the President said she has ordered Gen. Narciso Abaya, AFP chief of staff, to summarily punish any active military personnel engaged in partisan politics.

In a related development, former President Fidel V. Ramos called on the Filipino people to have faith in the AFP, the police and other law enforcement agencies, as well as the Commission on Elections (Comelec), to enforce the law and protect the integrity of the ballot.

Ramos said that as a soldier, he knows the professional loyalty and the democratic traditions that have been ingrained in the history of the uniformed services.

"No amount of threats from any quarters can undermine the vote of the people to ensure their nation moves forward with dignity and honor as a result of the election," Ramos said.

In her order to the AFP, the President said that "our mandate is clear: to protect the sanctity of the ballot, the safety of the voters and the well being of all teachers and election personnel."

She said she expects the mandate "to be fulfilled with professionalism and efficiency."

Ramos also urged the people to accept the result of next Monday’s election: "Everyone must abide by and respect the choice of the people."

He said the presence here of international observers with unquestionable credentials will bear witness to our people’s adherence to democracy, adding that the eyes of the whole world will be upon us on Monday.

"Let us prove to all nations and to ourselves that we are the best democracy in Asia, that we will cherish peace and freedom with undying fervor," the former President said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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