Malacañang said President Duterte is not bothered by reports that some military officials are withdrawing their support for the administration over his supposed silence on the West Philippine Sea issue and handling of the pandemic.
In an online briefing, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque dismissed rumors on the supposed looming military uprising as “kwentong kutsero” but sounded like he was warning those hatching the plot and lecturing them of its constitutional implications.
“Hindi po nababahala ang Presidente, alam po ng Presidente, tapat siya sa Saligang Batas, at alam po niya na nirerespeto rin ng ating mga kasundaluhan ang ating Saligang Batas,” Roque said.
He also reiterated Duterte’s earlier remark that soldiers can always remove him if the military thinks he is useless.
“Kung gugustuhin ng military, kahit sino pwedeng ipatanggal ng militar,” he said.
“Kampante po siya na walang dahilan para naman umakto ng ganyan ang ating mga kasundalohan,” he added.
On the same day, Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana described as “fake news” and “irresponsible propaganda” the said retired and active military officers belonging to a group called Viber 500 are threatening to withdraw support from President Duterte.
“I am not, and will never be, a part of any such group — neither are the officials at the Department of National Defense, many of whom are also retired military officers,” he said.
Armed Forces Chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana also belied such reports and expressed confidence that no soldier will join any such group as he appealed to the public to be discerning in sharing information that only causes alarm amid the Covid pandemic.
Sobejana said the “malicious posts” on social media are mainly to sow confusion and advised the public “to remain calm and dismiss them as another disinformation.”
Lorenzana said the spread of disinformation “is an act of reckless agitation emanating from detractors, who have a limited and myopic appreciation of issues.”
He called on destabilizers “to cease from propagating malicious statements, especially at a time when our people should all be coming together in the face of the challenges that we are all currently facing.”
“You are not helping our country and people at all,” he said.
Viber 500 has reportedly issued a “final warning” to the President to denounce China and assert the country’s claims in the West Philippine Sea. The group said it will withdraw its support from the President if he would not take the side of the Philippines against China.
There is also a separate report on social media that said the military is under “red alert” status due to a possible war with China.
The information was reportedly sent by an “Archbishop Martinez.” The message, which originated supposedly from one “General David,” asked the people to pray for the nation. It claimed that aircraft from the US, France, Japan, and Australia have been landing at the Clark Air Base to help in case war breaks out with China and an “Arab country.”
Sobejana said he has directed his staff to find out how the false information started.
He said there are two generals surnamed “David” in the Armed Forces but they have retired. One of them is former AFP chief and former Defense Undersec. Ricardo David.
The other David, Sobejana said, is Ricardo’s younger brother, retired commodore Renato (brigadier general in the Army), is currently with the Mutual Benefit Association Inc, a military financial institution.
Netizens noted there has been no “Archbishop Martinez” since the 1900s.
Rumors have been swirling about the alleged existence of the Viber group composed of hundreds of active and retired military officers who want Duterte to condemn China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea.