PH military declares support for Duterte in wake of Sereno ouster
MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) felt the need to quickly dispel on Friday, May 11, a message going around social media that a military command had supposedly withdrawn support from President Rodrigo Duterte.
"Your AFP shall and will remain united and steadfast following duly constituted authority and under the Chain-of-Command with the President and Commander-in-Chief on top of the hierarchy," said AFP spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo.
Arevalo said the "fake statement" circulating on social media is "obviously" a handiwork of "individuals who intend to sow discord in and to discredit the AFP as a professional organization."
The statement comes in the wake of a controversial Supreme Court vote to remove Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, an appointee of former President Benigno Aquino III whom Duterte called his "enemy."
Fears of a constitutional crisis gripped political observers as they awaited the reaction of the Senate, the body previously believed to have the exclusive power to remove a Chief Justice.
The SC vote preempts moves in the House of Representatives to impeach Sereno.
A message from "Southern Command?"
According to the message, soldiers from the "Southern Command" withdrew support from the government of Duterte.
Southern Command or "Southcom" is a now-defunct military unit, previously responsible over the entire Mindanao, that was divided into two. The Western Mindanao Command and the Eastern Mindanao Command that are focused on fighting local terrorist groups and communist insurgents, respectively.
"A Messenger post purportedly from the soldiers of the 'Southern Command' allegedly withdrawing support from Government and the President and encouraging other AFP units to follow suit is now circulating in social media. A few people sent it to me to determine its veracity," said Arevalo.
"That is a fake statement. It did not come from the military," he said.
There were proposals recently to combine the two unified commands in the military again. But a final decision has not been made over the recommendation. – Rappler.com