PRESIDENT Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III said Friday that politics has ceased to exist in the ranks of the military, following his assumption to the presidency.

Aquino, in his speech at the Army’s turnover of command rites in Fort Bonifacio, said the assumption of new Army commanding general Major General Arturo Ortiz “is a concrete step to show that the politics in the military is over”.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

“Hindi tayo papayag na masakripisyo ang kapakanan ng taumbayan nang dahil sa personal at pulitikal na di-pagkakasundo,” he added.

Ortiz comes highly recommended by the Board of Generals after going through a rigorous selection process, added the President.

He said Ortiz will help Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin in ensuring the modernization of the Armed Forces, including the recruitment of more soldiers and bringing back the trust of the people in the military.

“Under our administration, our strength as a nation will be fortified—because a nation is only as strong as its people’s trust in those who serve them.”

Aquino vowed to serve along with the Armed Forces and respond to their needs as long as it goes along the line of his “tuwid na landas” policy.

“I am your Commander-in-Chief. A good commande like General Ortiz fights in the frontlines and in the trenches with his men. Umasa po kayo na magkakabalikat tayo sa patuloy nating paglaban: para sa reporma, at para sa kalayaan—mula sa gutom,” he said.

“Only with peace and order can stability take hold. And only with stability can economic progress ensue. Like the very first person who was honored with a rank in the Philippine Army, you continue to fight for our freedom: freedom from insecurity, from hunger, and from poverty,” he added.

Ortiz’s directive

As part of his directive, Ortiz said: “We shall not stop in going after the elements wanting to sow violence in our country. We will go after all armed groups that threat our people and our democratic way of life.”

The military is at the forefront of addressing various threat groups, including the communist New People’s Army (NPA), the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, and rogue elements of the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“We will do this while recognizing and respecting the peace initiatives of our government. And in the accomplishment of this mission, we should always respect and uphold human rights,” said Ortiz.

He was conferred by former President Corazon Aquino the MOV for leading a raid of a NPA camp in Negros Occidental that left 85 rebels dead. He was then a captain, leading a company of the Special Forces Regiment.

While acknowledging the military’s lack of budget, Ortiz said: “We shall try our best to match the courage of our troops with the necessary equipment to perform their mission.”

“Certainly, the most valuable resource that we shall rationalize and maximize is our manpower. We will ensure the enhancement of our morale and welfare services,” added Ortiz.

Ortiz said he is demanding “quality leadership” from the Army commanders in the continuing fighting against the threat groups.” (JMR/VR/Sunnex)