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Duterte ‘unrest’ remarks only a reminder for AFP, PNP

MANILA, Philippines — Former president Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks on the supposed unrest in the military and police were not a threat, but a stern reminder to government officials of their obligation to protect the people, according to a former Palace official.

Salvador Panelo, who served as spokesman and chief legal counsel under the previous administration, said Duterte is aware of a provision in the Constitution that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are the “protector of the people.”

“That was the basis of (Duterte’s coup remarks),” he said.

“(Duterte is) not threatening; he’s just reminding those who are holding positions in government that if they’re not doing their sworn duty, they’ll have a problem with the AFP because it is their duty to defend the security and peace of the Filipino people,” Panelo said in Filipino over SMNI Friday night.

In his “Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa” program over SMNI, Duterte warned the public to “watch the military and the police closely,” claiming that the emerging alliance between Speaker Martin Romualdez and ACT-Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro is causing uneasiness among the ranks of uniformed personnel.

“You who are conniving in Congress. I am not scaring you, but watch the military and the police closely,” Duterte said.

The former chief executive, according to Panelo, was asked by Apollo Quiboloy during Duterte’s SMNI program whether or not it is justified for the AFP and the PNP to stage a coup because of extreme corruption.

“President Duterte responded (to Quiboloy) – extreme corruption, extreme criminality, extreme rebellion – when the Filipino people are in danger, it is justifiable to stage a coup,” Panelo quoted Duterte as saying.

SMNI is owned by Quiboloy, Duterte’s friend and spiritual adviser, who has been accused of various offenses, including sex trafficking and fraud, among others, in the United States.

Malacañang has yet to respond to Duterte’s warnings of alleged “uneasiness” among the ranks of the AFP and PNP allegedly because of recent political developments at the House of Representatives. – Emmanuel Tupas, Janvic Mateo