Criticisms vs Duterte not destabilization, says defense chief

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 09 2017 02:30 PM

President Rodrigo R. Duterte listens to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during a briefing at Bahay Malago inside the Presidential Security Group (PSG) Compound on August 15. Toto Lozano, Malacannag Photo/File

MANILA – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday maintained that the armed forces has not monitored any destabilization effort against President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte’s aides have been claiming that the president’s critics are brewing ouster or destabilization plots, citing the criticisms on the government’s war on drugs and allegations he operated a death squad when he was mayor of Davao City.

Lorenzana, however, said airing criticisms is part of democracy and does not necessarily lead to destabilization.

“We don’t have that info in the armed forces, zero actually. Sometimes, there are viral reactions to criticisms to the president. A criticism to the president is not destabilization. We must accept that there will be criticisms on what we do,” Lorenzana said in a forum.

Critics have called out Duterte and his aides for, at times, linking dissent to destabilization. 

One of Duterte’s main allies, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, said last week that drug lords were taking part in the destabilization efforts against the president.

Lorenzana, however, said the drug lords may no longer be capable of bringing down Duterte.

“Before the president came in, when they are still powerful and have a lot of resources, they can, but now mahirapan na sila (they will find it hard),” he said.

In a speech on Wednesday evening, the president said he has largely chosen to “shut up” instead of repeatedly addressing repeated allegations against him.

“I’m facing so many allegations, some are invented but some are true. Walang problema iyan (That's not a problem). I admit many died along the way for the 23 years akong mayor, but never was a time I executed a person kneeling down or with his hands pleading,” Duterte said in a speech in Pasay City.

The president said, he has opted to carry on with his job as the country’s leader instead of constantly reading and then responding to the allegations thrown at him.

"While I have consistently refused to answer because pabalik-balik na lang kasi, the norm of conduct of the opposite side, wala ka nang magawa eh, except to shut up," he said.