MANILA - A critic of President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said it is unseemly for the President to challenge soldiers to join Senator Antonio Trillanes and stage a mutiny if they ever lose confidence in him as a leader.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said Duterte betrayed his insecurity when he talked about Trillanes instead of ways to curb inflation.
"Basically ang nakita namin doon una isang insecure na presidente. Insecure. Bakit binabalikan ang [Armed Forces of the Philippines] sa lahat ng ginawa niya? Bakit parang loyal sila kay Trillanes? Ano ba ang nagawa ni Trillanes for us? Di na dapat kumpara ng Pangulo sarili niya kay Trillanes dahil he's the commander-in-chief," he said.
(Basically, what we saw there first is an insecure president. Why go back on the Armed Forces about everything he did for them? Why ask about their loyalty to Trillanes? 'What did Trillanes do for us?' The President doesn't need to to compare himself to Trillanes. He's the commander-in-chief.)
The lawmaker noted the President's support for the military should not result to personal loyalty.
"It should not result to personal loyalty of the AFP to anybody else, even to the president because we want AFP to be neutral. Apolitical. We want the AFP to uphold and defend the Constitution and loyal to the Constitution," he said.
"Pero kung nagmamaktol ang Pangulo at sinusumbatan ang AFP... in fact hinahamon pang magkudeta. Pangit 'yun sa Pangulo dahil inuudyukan na magresort to extra constitutional action."
(But if the President is sulking and scolding the AFP and challenging it to stage a coup, that doesn't look good on him because he is urging them to resort to extra-constitutional action.)
In a televised tete-a-tete with his chief legal counsel, Duterte said the military is free to join Trillanes, a former Navy official who led uprisings against the Arroyo administration.
"Kung kayo may nakita na ginawa si Trillanes para sa inyo, go to them. Stage a mutiny or revolution or whatever," he said. "You are free to do that. As a matter of fact, I’m encouraging you, para tapos na."
Duterte earlier ordered the military and the police to "employ all lawful means to apprehend" the lawmaker after he proclaimed an amnesty granted to Trillanes as null and void. He later clarified that he would let the courts decide whether or not to order Trillanes' arrest and if his proclamation was valid.
Several officials including former military chief Rodolfo Biazon have questioned Duterte's order, saying nullifying the amnesty for Trillanes has implications for the entire amnesty system including the peace process.
Alejano said the President should not be paranoid if there is criticism about his orders.
"Wag ho siya mapraning dahil Presidente siya, commander-in-chief. Di dapat siya mabahala sa AFP o sa amin. Demokrasya po ito, bahagi iyan," he said.
(He should not be paranoid because he is the President, the commander-in-chief. He should not be too worried about the AFP or us. This is democracy, that's part of it.)
He also rejected the President's allegation of a "loose conspiracy" among communist rebels, the opposition and the Magdalo group to oust him.
"Instead of pursuing your personal political enemies using the resources of the government, you should focus on more important issue like the economy dahil tahimik niya e (because he has been quiet on that)," he added.
Alejano said the Magdalo will never join forces with communists.
"Hinding hindi po natin gagawin 'yan not because takot tayo (but) because we subscribe to democracy. We don't want any communist government," he said.