By Raymund Antonio
Vice President and opposition leader Leni Robredo on Sunday raised her objections to the supposed militarization of government under the Duterte administration.
In her weekly radio show, “BISErbisyong Leni,” Robredo said the military takeover of civilian agencies like the Bureau of Customs (BOC) was “wrong” and a violation of the Constitution.
“Klaro sa Saligang Batas na iyong gobyerno natin ay civilian na gobyerno kaya nga pinapamunuan ito ng pangulo—kaya nga iyong pangulo ay iyong commander-in-chief ng armed forces. Parang pagpapahiwatig ito na iyong civilian government, mas mataas (It is clear in our Constitution that our government is civilian, headed by a president-that’s why the president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces that signifies civilian supremacy),” she said.
Robredo, a lawyer, has joined other critics of the the apparent militarization of government after President Duterte ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to take over operations of the BOC.
Section 5(4), Article XVI of the 1987 Constitution states, “No member of the armed forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the government including government-owned or controlled corporations or any of their subsidiaries.”
Robredo disagreed with Duterte that assigning military will address the corruption and smuggling problem in BOC.
The solution, she said, is to change the system in the agency through computerization of all customs processes.
“There are too many face-to-face transactions, that is where corruption starts. That should be reduced or human transaction should be limited,” she pointed out.
Robredo said the government should focus instead on big-time drug trafficking syndicates to prevent the entry the illegal drugs into the country.