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AFP warns troops vs public stand on ZTE controversy

The Philippine military on Monday warned its troops against making public their sentiments concerning the controversial ZTE deal, saying nobody is indispensable in the organization. "If they want to make it public, then they can get out of the service because that would in a way involve (themselves) in something which is political," military information chief Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro said in a press briefing. "What I’m saying is that nobody is indispensable in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. People who violate regulations have no place in the Armed Forces of the Philippines," Bacarro stressed. Last week, Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr linked former Commission on Elections chair Benjamin Abalos Sr and First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo to the botched deal with China’s ZTE Corp. Lozada likewise said the South Rail project was overpriced by at least $70 million. The revelations spawned criticisms against the Arroyo administration, with militant groups holding protest actions denouncing rampant corruption in the government. Earlier in the day, a Philippine Army statement quoted Brig. Gen. Ricardo Morales as reminding troops under his command to refrain from publicly airing their political views and instead, follow the chain of command. "Our personal opinions are personal and private. As we listen and have access to what is happening in the political scene, we will keep our opinions to ourselves," said Morales, commander of the Army’s Headquarters and Headquarters Support Group. "All of us have sworn our loyalty and obedience, and we will follow the chain of command. The Philippine to remain steadfast and loyal to the chain of command, and to the commander-in-chief," Morales said during a flag-raising ceremony in Fort Bonifacio. Rumors thru text Likewise, Morales warned the troops against resorting to spreading rumors through text messages which may aggravate the situation. "If you receive any information, any rumor, any text message that you should act one way or another, you will not pass on this text message or rumor...Do not spread rumors. You will pass on this message or rumor only to your intelligence officer. Remember that! We will not participate in any political activity," he said. A member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) class of 1977, Morales is previously associated with the original Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) that broke away from the military under the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. In 2005, Morales was sacked as commander of the 404th Infantry Brigade based in Mawab, Davao del Norte for questioning the construction of the mansion in Boracay purportedly for the use of soldiers and their families. "The next 'coup' will be peaceful and open. Enough of leaders who talk about reforms but do not understand what they are saying. Enough of this organizational stupidity," Morales said then in a letter circulated through the Internet accessible to some PMA graduates. After a year on floating status, Morales was designated as brigade commander in Bukidnon province, and subsequently as camp commander of Fort Bonifacio. - GMANews.TV