MANILA, Philippines - Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Delfin Bangit has been summoned by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), amid persistent reports of a military takeover in case of chaos brought by massive failure of elections.
Bangit will appear before the CBCP permanent council in its regular meeting on Tuesday. Church sources said the agenda is the forthcoming May 10 elections and the peace and order situation.
This will be the second time that Bangit will meet with the princes of the Church in light of fears that the military will take advantage of the pandemonium that could result from failed elections.
The AFP chief had earlier met with CBCP president Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar and two other bishops.
This time, he will be facing a larger contingent of bishops.
The CBCP permanent council is composed of 10 bishops from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. It acts on behalf of the entire CBCP when the bishops are not in plenary.
The permanent council meeting will be held Tuesday morning.
On Monday, Bangit led government troops in an interfaith rally in Camp Aguinaldo even as military officials doused fears that some military factions might participate in people power uprisings in case massive cheating mars next week's elections.
While he has said that he will not allow himself to be used for partisan purposes, Bangit’s loyalty has been questioned by some quarters as leaning more towards President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo than to the Constitution.
Bangit is former chief of the Presidential Security Group (PSG).
Liberal Party bet Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. earlier criticized Bangit’s appointment, saying that the AFP chief is “fiercely loyal” to Arroyo, and that his appointment could put the AFP’s neutrality at risk.
Asked if the CBCP might issue a last-minute circular before the polls, a Church source “it depends on the outcome of the meeting.”
The CBCP last January issued guidelines for voters for the May 10 polls. The bishops said candidates should be weighed based on Christian values.