Armed Forces of the Philippines

We stick with the President: AFP rejects Alvarez’s call to abandon Marcos

Dwight de Leon, Ferdinand Zuasola

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

We stick with the President: AFP rejects Alvarez’s call to abandon Marcos

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. attends with Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. (right) and Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo the trilateral summit with US President Joe Biden and Japan Prime Minister Kishida Fumio at the White House in Washington DC, April 11, 2024.

Kevin Lamarque/REUTERS

(3rd UPDATE) Fellow congressmen want the Davao del Norte representative investigated, and charged, for his seditious statement

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) rejected the call of Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez for it to abandon President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to force him to resign.

Alvarez said on Sunday night, April 14, in Tagum City that Marcos’ position on the Philippine claim in the West Philippine Sea “is making us to go to war with the world’s superpower, China. And that war will kill us all, Filipinos, especially our soldiers.”

This is a line of reasoning that security experts and academics have debunked.

Calling the President names like “Bobong Marcos” (Stupid Marcos) and “bangag” (high on drugs) during the prayer rally, Alvarez tried to appeal to the emotions of soldiers, saying nobody would take care of the families they would leave behind if they die in the field.

“Our Constitution says the AFP shall protect the people and the state, not the president! If we allow the war to explode in the West Philippine Sea, there will be countless dead bodies and unimaginable destruction. Before that happens…. I call on the Armed Forces of the Philippines to please withdraw your support to (sic) the chief executive…. Bababa sa p’westo ‘yan (he’ll step down),” Alvarez said.

The call fell on deaf ears.

At a Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines event on Monday, April 15, AFP Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner Jr. told reporters: “The AFP remains to be a professional organization. Our mandate is very clear. We will protect the Constitution, and we will follow the duly constituted authorities. In other words, we will follow the chain of command.”

The President is the constitutionally designated commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Marcos has just returned from the United States, where he held a summit with US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and agreed to strengthen the three countries’ security cooperation to keep regional waters free and open.

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The President also said he had approved countermeasures to China’s growing aggression in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zones. He said he was “horrified” at the thought of Beijing’s claim that it had a gentleman’s agreement with former president Rodrigo Duterte’s administration to not reinforce Sierra Madre, the Philippines’ military outpost in Ayungin Shoal.

At the Tagum rally, Alvarez took turns with former president Duterte, Davao City Mayor Sebastian Duterte, and former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in lambasting Marcos.

The Duterte camp began openly criticizing the Marcos administration on various issues after Congress removed the confidential funds from the budget of Vice President Sara Duterte’s offices, and after Marcos shifted foreign policy back to the West and other democracies, from Rodrigo Duterte’s kowtowing to China.

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Since he rekindled his relationship with former president Duterte, Alvarez has echoed the attacks by the Duterte patriarch and his sons against the incumbent chief executive.

He has called for an independent Mindanao (which fellow lawmakers rejected), rejected the charter change push under the current administration, and called for Marcos’ resignation as a supposed solution to the worsening tensions in the West Philippine Sea. 

Alvarez was Duterte’s House speaker from 2016 until 2018, when he was ousted, following then-Davao City mayor Sara Duterte’s call on congressmen and women to unseat him. Sara said her father was better off without Alvarez, whom she called an “insecure slob” and a “fat sleaze.” 

Colleagues call for probe, charges vs Alvarez

Alvarez’s colleagues at the lower chamber are not too happy about his call to the AFP, with some congressmen saying he could face sedition charges.

“The response to the seditious statement should be the immediate filing of a criminal case so that the move to incite people, including the military, to rebel against the government will be nipped in the bud,” Camiguin Representative Jurdin Jesus Romualdo said in a statement on Monday. 

This is not the first time – Romualdo also wanted Alvarez to face sedition charges for his previous call to separate Mindanao from the rest of the republic.

In a separate release, Lanao del Norte Representative Khalid Dimaporo also said the House committee on ethics could investigate the former Speaker.

Alvarez’s absence in performing his duties as a congressman was also hit. La Union Representative Paulo Ortega noted they “have not seen him for quite some time” in sessions and committee deliberations at the lower chamber.

Pimentel: Insulate AFP from politics

At the Senate, Senate Minority Leader made an appeal to the bickering lawmakers.

“I appeal to my good friends: 1. Former speaker Bebot Alvarez to insulate the armed forces from political matters but to continue to speak out on the burning issues of the day and 2. Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel not to file criminal cases so as to uphold and strengthen the right to free speech and to assemble with people of similar positions in the burning issues of the day,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel also said that selection of the country’s political leaders “should be settled through honest elections” and not left to be determined by the military or any armed group.

“Let us insulate our armed forces from politics so that they can develop into a more professional, disciplined, and inspired group,” he added.

In a statement on Tuesday, April 16, Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro said that calls for the military to “withdraw support” from the Marcos administration was “futile,” and would only lead to a “possible criminal investigation.” 

“The AFP is standing steadfast in upholding the Constitution under the leadership of the Commander in Chief President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. Any attempt to sway them away from this duty or to patronize them to support a partisan agenda is futile, particularly when this agenda dovetails with a foreign interest contrary to our own national interests,” he said in a statement to media. – with a report from Bea Cupin/

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.