There’s talk on cyberspace that hundreds of active and retired military officers are reportedly planning to withdraw support for President Rodrigo Duterte over his silence about Beijing’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea.
The Twitter user @infopsph claimed there’s now a Viber group composed of over 500 active and retired military officers who want Duterte to speak up and condemn China’s actions in the disputed waters.
“The demand of the Viber 500 and the retired generals in Pres Duterte’s cabinet, except retired CSAFP Galvez, to denounce China’s invasion in the strongest possible terms is now impossible to ignore. A withdrawal of support is very imminent,” @infops tweeted April 15.
“Viber Group of 300 now reached nearly 500 members with junior offrs fm PMA, OCS and OPC and other senior offrs in active service. Except former CSAFP GALVEZ, retired generals in cabinet incl Natl Sec Adviser Sec Esperon now demand strong condemnation of China fm Pres Duterte,” another tweet read.
@infopsph claimed that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Cirilito Sobejano are in talks with their American counterparts over the issue.
“SND and CSAFP in talks with US counterparts as Pres Duterte downplays consistent prodding to issue statement against China’s invasion. Pres Duterte resorting to appear-disappear tactics to evade issue. Withdrawal of military support probable if demand is not met,” a tweet read.
Duterte didn’t mention the maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea in the two public addresses he made this week.
Rumors about the military’s withdrawal of support for Duterte are floating as the government becomes more vocal in its criticism of China’s incursion in the West Philippine Sea.
On April 12, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) summoned Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian to protest the lingering presence of Chinese vessels in Julian Felipe Reef.
Lorenzana said Duterte also requested the removal of the vessels during his recent dialogue with Huang.
Earlier this month, the crew of ABS-CBN reporter Chiara Zambrano was chased by Chinese ships armed with missiles when they tried to venture towards Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
Zambrano was subsequently awarded by Sobejana with a plaque recognizing her efforts to raise “public awareness and patriotism on the recent sovereign incursion” by the Chinese inside the West Philippine Sea.