Withdrawal of support for Duterte, fake news — DND

Maris Federez   •   April 18, 2021   •   443

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of National Defense has denounced what it called “the irresponsible propaganda” that has been making rounds on social media which alleged that a group of retired and active military officers is withdrawing their support for President Rodrigo Duterte.

“This is fake news! I am not, and will never be, a part of any such group — neither are the officials at the Department of National Defense, many of whom are also retired military officers,” DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement issued on Sunday (April 18).

Lorenzana stressed that “such disinformation is an act of reckless agitation emanating from detractors, who have a limited and myopic appreciation of issues.”

The Defense chief urged what he called “destabilizers” to stop issuing such malicious propaganda amid the uncertainties brought by the coronavirus disease pandemic.

“We call on these destabilizers to cease from propagating malicious statements especially at a time when our people should all be coming together in the face of the challenges that we are all currently facing. You are not helping our country and people at all,” Lorenzana’s statement concluded. —/mbmf

Defense chief Lorenzana says his stance on West Philippine Sea issue aligns with Duterte’s

Robie de Guzman   •   May 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea will continue despite China’s call for the Philippines to stop conducting maritime exercises and other activities that would “complicate” the situation in the region.

In a statement on Sunday, Lorenzana vowed that the position of the Philippine government on the matter will not waver.

“While we acknowledge that China’s military capability is more advanced than ours, this does not deter us from defending our national interest, and our dignity as a people, with all that we have,” Lorenzana said.

“Thus, the conduct of maritime patrol in the WPS and Kalayaan Island Group by the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will continue. The government will not waver in its position. Walang alisan,” he added.

He also emphasized that his stance on the West Philippine Sea issue is the same with President Rodrigo Duterte’s contrary to the claims of some quarters.

“President Duterte’s orders to us have been very firm and straightforward: defend what is rightfully ours without going to war and maintain the peace in the seas,” he said.

“Yung nagsasabi na hindi kami align ng Presidente, let me clarify that my pronouncements echo the stand of our President and Commander in Chief,” he added.

As for the Philippines’ “long-standing and multi-faceted” relationship with China, Lorenzana said that the country will maintain cooperation in various areas that are “mutually beneficial to our peoples.”

“We can be cordial and cooperative with other nations but not at the expense of our sovereignty and sovereign rights,” he stressed.

He further said that the latest developments in contested waters make it clear that there is a need for all stakeholders to cooperate.

“They can now take this as an opportunity to advance the values and principles we collectively affirm and profess to respect – including the peaceful settlement of disputes – as partners and as signatories to UNCLOS and all relevant international instruments,” he said.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin last week urged the Philippines to “respect” their supposed sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea and to stop actions complicating the situation and escalating disputes.

China ‘no business’ telling PH forces to stop exercises in West Philippine Sea — DND

Robie de Guzman   •   April 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of  National Defense (DND) on Wednesday stressed that China has no legal basis to stop Philippine authorities from conducting maritime patrols and other activities in the West Philippine Sea.

DND Spokesperson Arsenio Andolong issued the remark in response to the Chinese government’s statement that the Philippines should stop taking actions that would complicate the situation in the West Philippine Sea.

“China has no business telling the Philippines what we can and cannot do within our own waters,” Andolong said in a statement.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Monday urged the Philippines to “respect” their supposed sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea and to stop actions complicating the situation and escalating disputes

“China enjoys sovereignty over Nansha Islands including Zhongye Island and Zhongsha Islands including Huangyan Island and their adjacent waters, and exercises jurisdiction in relevant waters,” Wang said.

He was referring to Panatag Shoal, which China calls Huangtyan Island, and Pag-asa Island, which they call Zhongye Island.

But Andolong noted that China’s so-called nine-dash line demarcating its massive claims has no legal basis in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and has been nullified by the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling favoring the Philippines’ claims over the resource-rich waters.

“The arbitral award has categorically stated that the Chinese claim bounded by their so-called nine-dash line according to their “historical right” has no basis in fact,” he said.

“Therefore, it is they who are encroaching and should desist and leave,” he added.

Andolong also said that the Philippine forces will continue to “do what is necessary to protect our sovereign rights.”

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) last Saturday held maritime drills near the Bajo de Masinloc and Pag-asa Islands.

The PCG said the training was intended to intensify its personnel training on navigation, small boat operations, maintenance, and logistical operations.

Aside from the West Philippine Sea, the said capital ships will also be deployed to perform maritime exercises in the Batanes Group of Islands, Benham Rise, as well as in the southern and eastern portions of the Philippines, the PCG said.

The maritime drills were conducted by the PCG and BFAR following reports on Chinese vessels lingering in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Duterte not bothered by military coup rumors — Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is not bothered by recent reports that some military officials are withdrawing their support for the administration over his supposed silence on the West Philippine Sea issue, Malacañang said Monday.

In an online briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque dismissed rumors on the supposed looming military uprising as “kwentong kutsero” (hearsay).

“Hindi po nababahala ang presidente, alam po ng presidente, tapat siya sa Saligang Batas, at alam po niya na nirerespeto rin ng ating mga kasundaluhan ang ating Saligang Batas,” Roque said.

He also reiterated Duterte’s earlier remark that soldiers can always remove him if the military thinks he is useless.

“Kung gugustuhin ng military, kahit sino pwedeng ipatanggal ng militar,” he said.

“Kampante po siya na walang dahilan para naman umakto ng ganyan ang ating mga kasundalohan,” he added.

Roque issued the statement a day after the Department of National Defense (DND) denied reports that some retired and active military officials are planning to withdraw their support for Duterte over his stance against China and its incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

The Palace official also believes that there is no need for a loyalty check among the military generals and that they can always choose a new leader with the upcoming election year. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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