Robredo says AFP may not be perfect but it remains independent

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 28) — Vice President Leni Robredo said on Sunday that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has "maintained" its independence as an institution, two days after she met with a group of military officers during which she expressed her support for the mandate of the anti-communist insurgency task force.

During a radio interview, Robredo said that she is "very appreciative" of the AFP.

"Kasi kahit hindi siya perpekto, until now talaga name-maintain niya naman ‘yung kanyang independence as an institution. Hindi hinahayaan na maging instrumento siya," she said.

[Translation: Even though it is not perfect until now it has really maintained its independence as an institution. It does not allow its force to be used as (a political) instrument.]

Robredo also said that she aired her national concerns and issues during the security briefing with some officials of the AFP last Friday.

She did not provide any details as those, she said, were confidential information.

"Pero mahalaga kasi na alam natin. Mahalaga na alam natin kung nasaan na tayo as far as many things are concerned," she said.

[Translation: But it is important to know where we are as far as many things are concerned.]

Robredo also highlighted AFP's role in her office's pandemic response, noting the military has played a key role in reaching more areas across the Philippines.

"Lagi tayo nagpapasalamat sa AFP kasi alam mo, during the pandemic, grabe ‘yung partnership namin with them. Marami tayong napapadala na mga PPE sets all over the Philippines saka mga medical supplies, largely dahil sa tulong nila," she said.

[Translation: We are always grateful to the AFP because, during the pandemic, our partnership with them was great. We were able to send a lot of PPE sets all over the Philippines as well as medical supplies, largely because of their help.]

The official, who is also running for the presidency, said the AFP has helped with the deployment of temporary shelters within hospital compounds.

Following her meeting with the AFP, Robredo's camp released a statement, revealing the latter's support for the mandate and functions of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. She earlier called for the abolition of the task force.

READ: Robredo supports NTF-ELCAC mandate, but task force in bad light due to ‘careless statements’

The statement drew flak online and from different groups, including Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares.

Colmenares said Robredo's "contradictory stand" on the NTF-ELCAC is "worrisome."

Another presidential aspirant Leody De Guzman, meanwhile, vowed to abolish the NTF-ELCAC if elected next year.

"Sa unang araw ng ating panunungkulan, asahan natin ang agarang pagbasura sa NTF-ELCAC," he said in a statement Sunday.

[Translation: On the first day of our tenure, let us expect the immediate abolition of the NTF-ELCAC.]

De Guzman said the multibillion-peso budget allotted for the controversial task force must be realigned to address other social problems in livelihood, healthcare, public transportation, agriculture, and education.