Ex-Speaker asks military to abandon Marcos; AFP, PNP reject call, affirm loyalty to PHL Constitution

CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City – The military and the police assured their full loyalty to the Constitution and the chain of command, shrugging off calls for them to withdraw their support for President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

In a statement, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla said Filipino soldiers, pilots, and marines are dedicated to their mandate of safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines, regardless of “any political affiliations or individuals in authority.”

“Our duty is to protect the Filipino people and uphold the rule of law, ensuring that peace and development will prevail throughout the nation. We will continue to fulfill these responsibilities with integrity, impartiality, and utmost dedication,” the AFP spokesperson said.

AFP chief of staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. maintained that the military remains a very professional organization.

“This is not the first time na nanawagan sila na (they made this call that) we pull out our support to the President but our answer is always the same, that the AFP remains to be a professional organization. Very clear po yung mandate natin (our mandate is very clear),  we will protect the Constitution and we will follow the duly constituted authorities,” he said in a separate interview.

On Sunday night, Davao Del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez urged the AFP to withdraw its support from Marcos, claiming that such an act would allow the country to attain peace and stability.

The lawmaker made this call after noting the rising tensions between the Philippines and China over the West Philippine Sea.

Alvarez has since apologized for his remarks after fellow lawmakers and the Department of Justice threatened to file appropriate charges which may include treason against him.

While the Davao del Norte solon apologized, he insisted his call was not inciting sedition.

“Pasensya na,” Alvarez told fugitive preacher Apollo Quiboloy’s media arm, Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), “nadala rin ng bugso ng damdamin. Mahal ko ang Pilipinas, lalo na ang Mindanao(Sorry, I got carried away by strong emotions. I love the Philippines, especially Mindanao.).”

Alvarez made the call during the Hakbang ng Maisug rally in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, on April 14. The rally was led by former president Rodrigo Duterte and organized as an offshoot of Malacañang’s April 8 suspension order against Davao del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib.

The former speaker said his call was not meant to incite sedition because he did not espouse violence.

Alvarez said his remarks were a result of his dismay over Philippine foreign policy, particularly regarding the contentious issue of the West Philippine Sea.

“At paano ako tatahimik? Tingnan n’yo nangyayari. Kinakaladkad tayo ng Malacañang papunta sa digmaan kahit na ang China ay nauunahan na ang Amerika pagdating sa ekonomiya, teknolohiya at lakas ng military. Hindi siya katanggap-tanggap. May nuclear weapons sila, kaya rin nila magpapaputok at hindi tayo makakapalag. Maraming Pilipino ang mamamatay. Ubos tayo,” he said.

He said he was prepared to answer for his controversial remarks before the House of Representatives, and was not worried about the prospect of being expelled because he was about to step down as congressman anyway.

Alvarez is serving his third and last term as a Davao del Norte representative, and is constitutionally barred from seeking reelection in next year’s elections.

Brawner also dismissed claims that the Philippines, under the Marcos administration, is causing tensions in these waters.

“Definitely we are not the ones causing tension in the West Philippine Sea, its the other way around. We are going on with our usual business, our fishermen, our fishing in our exclusive economic zone and the AFP and the Coast Guard are protecting our fishermen so that they are able to fish in our exclusive economic zone,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said while it respects the freedom of expression, it does not want to be caught in the middle of these political statements.

In an interview with reporters, PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said they remain loyal to the Constitution and would stick to their mandate of maintaining peace and order.

“Let us spare yung uniformed personnel sa mga ganitong mga usaping political (Let us spare our uniformed personnel from these political matters),” she added.

Fajardo, meanwhile, said their legal officers were looking into whether the lawmaker’s remarks could be considered seditious.