MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday clarified that the recall of Philippine Marines assigned as security detail to special envoy Ramon Tulfo was not due to his brother's controversial tirade against Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, a former Army chief.
Tulfo serves as the Philippines' special envoy for public diplomacy to China and was assigned 2 Marines for security.
In a statement, AFP spokesman Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the recall had already been scheduled since last year, before Tulfo's brother Erwin lashed out on air and hurled curses and insults at Bautista for refusing to be interviewed.
"The Corps has sent correspondence to their respective principals since last year informing them of the order requiring the Marines to report back to Headquarters for consequent deployment," Arevalo said.
Arevalo cited "dearth of personnel" as the reason behind the withdrawal of security detail.
"Due to the dearth of personnel, the Philippine Marine Corps has started recalling its Marines who were detailed outside the Corps as security detail," he said.
Erwin, a broadcaster, earned the ire of Philippine Army members for berating Bautista on television.
The Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association has spoken in defense of the Social Welfare Secretary, saying Bautista has done more for the country than Tulfo ever will.
Bautista, the former commander of the Presidential Security Group, the 1st Infantry Division, and Joint Task Force Marawi, was in the frontlines during the height of the Marawi siege, earning the respect of military men who fought alongside him.
Tulfo has since apologized for the rant, but stopped short of saying sorry for criticizing Bautista because he said recanting was something he and his brothers never did.
An online petition on platform Change.org also sought Tulfo's public apology to Bautista. It has garnered more than 7,100 signatures as of this writing.