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AFP thumbs down surveillance limits in draft charter

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is opposing some provisions of the proposed federal charter, including the limitations in the conduct of electronic surveillance.

AFP chief Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said they wanted a constitution that will only have general provisions and will not “hamper” or “clip wings” to do the job.

“The Constitution is very absolute. Yung tactical operations should not be mentioned considering that it may limit our flexibility to do our mandate,” he told reporters Thursday.

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Members of the Consultative Committee tasked to review the 1987 Constitution led by retired Army Lt. Gen Ferdinand Bocobo held a briefing and consultation at Camp Aguinaldo to discuss the proposed revisions related to security.

The AFP chief cited the Human Security Act, which he said, turned out to be “inutile.”

“Halos lahat ng details binigay natin dun and then nakita natin it has become inutile. Wala siyang nagawa, wala siyang na-indict na terrorists,” he said.

He also said the limitations may result in the dismissal of cases against suspects.

Among others, the proposed constitution prohibits “unlawful unreasonable surveillance through technological, electronic, or any other means” and will only be allowed if there is both a search warrant and surveillance warrant.

AFP as protector of the people and state

Galvez also did not sit well with the removal of the “protector of the people” role of the AFP, saying they take “pride” in it.

“It’s a great pride for the armed forces being the protector of the people and the state. We are the only institution given by the government to have that mandate (it) is very delicate…It’s my personal view to retain that phrase…That mandate is very noble to us,” he said.

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He said the phrase is a “strategic message” for the military. “These words are very important to us so int terms of disaster yun ang [task] namin talaga is protecting and saving the people.”

Bocobo explained they had removed the phrase because it had been used before by coup plotters and mutineers.

He said the government, not the AFP, is the protector of the people. /muf

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