MANILA—Malacañang on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte is confident that he continues to enjoy the loyalty of majority of the country’s soldiers, amid calls for a loyalty check in the military.
Military officials warned over the weekend that a "broad" coalition of communist rebels and the President's critics were conspiring to remove him from office in a plot called "Red October." Duterte on Tuesday accused some soldiers of conniving with his foes.
While Duterte has expressed dismay upon learning that several soldiers are allegedly “in bed” with his enemies, such as the opposition Liberal Party and the communists, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President is confident the military continues to support him.
Asked whether a loyalty check is needed among members of the military, Roque did not give a categorical answer but noted that there is at least a need to “verify” various information going around.
“So dapat siguro i-verify itong mga impormasyon na ito pero kampante naman po ang Presidente na tumutupad sa kanilang tungkulin ang ating kasundaluhan at kapulisan,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former chief of the national police, urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines to check on the loyalty of its troops through counterintelligence.
Duterte, meanwhile, said those in the armed services should confront him if they feel he is no longer fit for the job, instead of taking part in ouster moves.
The government and the military floated the allegations of an ouster plot amid efforts to revive the rebellion and coup d'état charges against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a former Navy officer.
Trillanes has warned that some ranks in the military have been dismayed by the administration’s moves against him.
Duterte, for his part, said he is willing to step down and need not be subjected to a coup.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has entered the picture as it started to investigate personalities allegedly involved in the supposed ouster plot.
Roque defended the NBI’s move.
“Katungkulan naman po talaga ng NBI iyan at ng mga law enforcement agents na kapag may posibleng krimen na nangyayari ay dapat imbestigahan,” Roque said.
(It is the duty of the NBI and other law enforcement agents to conduct an investigation if a possible crime is being done.)
“So kung may intel information po ang militar, sana po i-share nila ito sa NBI nang malaman natin kung mayroon dapat parusahan . . . So kung mayroon talagang lumalabag sa mga batas natin on rebellion, coup d'état and sedition, let the process begin against them.”
(So if the military has intelligence information, it should share them to the NBI so we would know who to punish… If someone really violated laws against rebellion, coup d'état and sedition, let the process begin against them.)