Philippine army warned against “meddling” as coup rumors swirl

Philippines President Benigno Aquino gestures as he answers questions during the annual forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) at a hotel in Manila October 17, 2012. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo

Philippines President Benigno Aquino gestures as he answers questions during the annual forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) at a hotel in Manila October 17, 2012.   REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo

(Reuters) – Philippine soldiers should keep clear of politics, the military’s new chief said on Wednesday, as rumors of a possible coup swirled in the capital after the Supreme Court declared President Benigno Aquino’s economic stimulus fund illegal.

The 120,000-member armed forces has a history of coups and attempted coups. Last month, rumors sprang up of a plot against the Aquino administration because of the fund scandal.

“We should be reminded that as members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, we should remain professional and non-partisan,” military chief Lieutenant-General Pio Gregorio Catapang told troops at an air base in Pampanga province, north of Manila.

“The DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) has become a political issue. We should allow the democratic process to take its course and let the judicial, the executive and legislative branches of government deal with this,” he said. “We should not meddle (but) concentrate on our mission.”

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