The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) vowed to strictly adhere to human rights principles as they provide supplemental help to the the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the campaign against illegal drugs.
Newly installed AFP Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Eduardo Año and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said they will respect human rights in fulfilling the order of President Rodrigo Duterte.
"The rights of the people will be respected at all times, kasama iyan sa aming doctrine," Lorenzana said.
(That is included in our doctrine)
"We know our mandate we make sure that we shall abide by the rule of law," Año said.
Lorenzana and Año, however, said the PNP and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) remain as the lead agency in the war against illegal drugs.
"Kung kailangan nila ng tropa saka lang kami magbibigay, tinutulungan namin sila in terms of intelligence assets," Lorenzana said.
(We'll only provide troops when they need it. We are helping them in terms of intelligence assets.)
Año added that their task is to provide necessary support, military capabilities in order to address the drug problem and help PNP to neutralize big-time drug syndicates as well as provide intelligence machinery.
Año and Lorenzana were the guests of honor of the Philippine Air Force in a turn-over ceremony of two new FA-50 aircraft at the Villamor Air Base.
Lorenzana said the new jet fighter planes will be used to patrol the West Philippine Sea to intercept intruders especially in the country's exclusive economic zone.
"Meron ka ngayong fighter plane, hindi na mag-aattempt pumasok sa airspace ang mga intruders nang walang paalam dahil may mag intercept na," Lorenzana said.
(You now have a fighter plane. Intruders will no longer try to enter the airspace without permission because there are already intercepts.)
He added that he has not received any word from the President to replace him and install newly retired General Ricardo Visaya as Defense secretary.
"Ako naman I serve at the pleasure of the President, kung kailan sabihin nya na hihinto, hihinto ako, siya nakakaalam nyan" he said.
(I serve at the pleasure of the President. Whenever he tells me to stop, I will stop. He knows that.)
"I still want to serve, nakikita ko I still want to serve under him," he added.
(I see that I want to serve under him.)
Año, for his part, said he does not think about the criticism of his appointment, especially since the accusations were not proven.
"Those are recycled issues, naresolve na iyan noong 2012, I just want to move on and work silently so I can give the best service to the AFP and to our people" Año, who has been criticized by militant groups for being a human rights violator, said.