Amid ouster talk, Duterte reminds troops of loyalty to flag
President Rodrigo Duterte reminded the military and police on Saturday that he expected them to be loyal to the country’s flag and not to him.
The President merely shrugged off the claim of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that a “very significant” number of military officers were concerned about the revocation of his amnesty, and that the people’s voice of outrage could prompt the armed forces to take action.
“You don’t have to be loyal to me, just be loyal to the Philippine flag,” the President said in a press briefing after arriving from his official visits to Israel and Jordan.
He does not even want to conduct a loyalty check on the military and police, he said.
“Right at the beginning of my term as President, I fully stressed to the men in uniform that they should not nurture (loyalty to me) or anybody in the government. They should focus their loyalty to the flag,” the President added.
Trillanes on Friday said he was confident that the military was united and he never doubted its loyalty to the Constitution.
But he claimed that many military officers had expressed concern over the furor created by the President’s Proclamation No. 572, which voided the senator’s amnesty and ordered his arrest and court martial.
“They are hoping that they won’t be used in this political exercise of Mr. Duterte. They want to remain professional,” the former mutineer said.
The President slammed Trillanes for “pretending” to care for the military when, he said, the senator had actually done nothing to improve their conditions ever since he became a lawmaker.
Trillanes was among the leaders of the mutinies in 2006 and 2007 that demanded, among others, an end to alleged corruption in the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, an ally of President Duterte and now Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“It was all Trillanes, pretending to be a crusading soldier when, as a matter of fact, he has not done anything. Did the soldiers’ pay increase by at least 5 percent?” the President said.
“He did not only abandon the vision of the military, he became corrupt, like collecting from businessmen,” he added.
The President warned that Trillanes had joined forces with communist leaders and the “yellows,” apparently referring to the opposition Liberal Party, in a plot to remove him from office.
Addressing the military, he said he had received an intelligence report detailing the plot from “sources from a foreign power.”
Playing with Reds
“It’s Trillanes, the yellows and the [Communist Party of the Philippines] politburo. The problem with Trillanes, he is also playing with the communists,” the President said.
“So, you soldiers, before you jump into conclusion, let me show you the intelligence report. Trillanes is colluding with the enemy. They are praying for my ouster, these three,” he added.
The senator denied the President’s allegations, saying he was instrumental in the passage of laws that benefitted the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“If I can only make a list, we’ll probably have to stay here the whole day … The soldiers know that,” said Trillanes, who effectively left the military in 2007 after he ran for a Senate seat and won.
If anybody collaborated with the communists, it was Mr. Duterte, said Trillanes. —Frinston Lim, Jeoffrey Maitem, Leila B. Salaverria, Cathrine Gonzales, Delfin T. Mallari and Faye Orellana
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