Marcos Jr. administration

Navy to probe reservist Alvarez over call to withdraw support from Marcos 

Bea Cupin

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Navy to probe reservist Alvarez over call to withdraw support from Marcos 

LAWMAKER. Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez in 2023.

House press and public affairs bureau

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of Defense have also rejected the call of Alvarez, a Navy reservist

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Navy on Tuesday, April 16, said it ordered an investigation into remarks made by one of its reservists, Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez, who had called on the military to “withdraw [their] support” for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. over his policy in the West Philippine Sea

“We take exception to the recent statement of the 1st District Davao del Norte Representative and Marine reservist, Pantaleon Alvarez. The Philippine Navy has already directed the 9th Marine Brigade to conduct an investigation; and to ask Col Alvarez PN(M)(MNSA) (Res) to explain his statements. The result of the investigation will be the basis of the Navy’s actions moving forward,” said the Navy in a statement. 

“The Philippine Navy is a professional organization dedicated to uphold our mandate of safeguarding the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the state. In support of the AFP, we reiterate our unwavering loyalty and commitment to the Constitution, the Chain of Command, and to the President of the Republic of the Philippines as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces,” it said. 

The Armed Forces of the Philippines, as well as the Department of Defense, earlier rejected Alvarez’ call. Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro said calls for the military to withdraw support would “not amount to anything but to a possible criminal investigation.”

The Department of Justice earlier said it would probe Alvarez’s statements “to determine whether it has risen to the level of sedition, inciting to sedition, or even rebellion.” 

“Rest assured that the Sailors and Marines will continue to fulfill our responsibility with integrity, impartiality, utmost dedication, and will follow legal orders from the chain of command. The Navy will continue to uphold the rule of law – ensuring security and stability as guardians of our seas. One AFP, One Philippines, Strong AFP, Strong Philippines,” said the Navy in its April 16 statement. 

The Philippine Navy is among the frontline government agencies in the Philippines’ push to defend its sovereign rights and assert its sovereign claims in the West Philippine Sea, or part of the South China Sea that includes the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. 

Under the Marcos administration, the Philippines has grown more assertive in the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines has also seen a course correction in its foreign policy with the Marcos administration strengthening ties with treaty-ally the US and other strategic partners, in contrast to former president Rodrigo Duterte’s “pivot to China.”

Alvarez returned as an ally of the former president, years after he was ousted from the House Speakership during the Duterte administration. 

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, including parts within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. Beijing has repeatedly insisted that the 2016 Arbitral Award which upheld the Philippine position is invalid. 

Tensions in the West Philippine Sea have risen in the past year, with the China Coast Guard not above using force – in the form of water cannons – against Philippine vessels in Ayungin and Scarborough Shoals. Alvarez said Marcos’ policy “is making us to go to war with the world’s superpower, China. And that war will kill us all, Filipinos, especially our soldiers.”

Navy personnel have been injured by China’s water cannons, although injured soldiers themselves have said they would not hesitate to be deployed in Ayungin Shoal, where the rusty BRP Sierra Madre serves as a military outpost. 

Under Duterte, the Philippines had entered a “gentleman’s agreement” to keep the status quo in the West Philippine Sea, according to the Chinese embassy in Manila. The “status quo,” if China’s statements are to be believed, meant that under Duterte, the Philippines would not bring construction materials to fortify the BRP Sierra Madre

While Duterte has denied having entered into a specific agreement on Ayungin Shoal, he’s confirmed negotiations to maintain the status quo in those waters. –

1 comment

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  1. ET

    He should be stripped of such rank if he is genuinely a military reservist and does not follow the chain of command. Otherwise, such rank is equivalent to the “paid commissions” of former monarchial armies during the Napoleonic wars. These military officers got their rank by paying the King, and they got their rank even without formal training. Hence, during actual battles, they were defeated by Napoleon’s officers, who rose from the ranks through merit.

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.