Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. also denied saying that there is a plot to destabilize the government, saying his statement was “taken out of context.”
There is no plot to destabilize the government, although there are “passionate” debates among retired military officers on the policies of the Marcos administration, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año said on Saturday, Nov. 4.
Reports quoted Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. as saying earlier that he had heard of destabilization plots, including calls to stage a coup d’état to unseat President Marcos, some of them involving former military officers.
But Brawner denied saying that there was such a plot and that his statement was “taken out of context.”
He had reportedly talked to some of those who were into the supposed destabilization plot and told them not to involve active soldiers.
The military chief also claimed that there are no widespread movements against the administration, but warned soldiers not to join such actions, according to media reports.
Brawner did not identify the personalities who are reportedly pushing to get Marcos out of power.
In an interview at the House of Representatives on Saturday, Nov. 4, Brawner denied saying there is a destabilization plot involving former military officers, and that he “did not mention” that there was such a destabilization plot during the change of command ceremonies at the West Mindanao Command on Friday, Nov. 3.
“It was taken out of context. I did not mention about destabilization plot. When you say plot, it’s like there is a plan that is ready for execution,” he said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Brawner added that what he said was that “we heard some chatters of destabilization efforts.”
“That’s the specific word that I said. So I did not use the word ‘plot,’ but the context of that speaking engagement is, I was talking to our troops, our sailors, airmen and what I was saying was that – I was reminding them that as soldiers, we should take our oath seriously that we protect the Constitution,” he said.
The official underscored he was telling military personnel not to get involved in any “movement.”
Brawner added that he has big respect for retired officers.
“That the context of my statement – that soldiers should not join these kinds of activities, like rallies. So, it was as simple as that. I never mentioned about (any) destabilization plot.
Asked to react to Brawner’s statement, Año said the AFP chief was “misquoted or misinterpreted” by the media while he was talking to the troops.
“Yes, there were healthy and passionate exchanges/debates among some retired/former military officers and even criticisms against a few policies of the current administration, but they are within the bounds of our democratic space. Although often abused, they are a mere part of freedom of expression… mostly academic discussions,” Año told The STAR in a text message.
“But there is no destabilization plot/movement against the government. The security sector shall remain vigilant and ready to take immediate actions against any sinister group that will undermine our national security,” he added.
Echoing Año’s statement, AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said that Brawner was merely “misquoted” in his message to the troops during the change of command ceremony in Zamboanga City on Nov. 3.
“General Romeo Brawner Jr., the chief of staff of the AFP, was simply misquoted,” Aguilar said in a statement.
“In his message to the troops during the change of command ceremony of the Western Mindanao Command yesterday, Nov. 3, 2023, he merely mentioned the reported efforts by certain individuals to upset the peace and stability that the country is enjoying right now under the leadership of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.,” Aguilar added.
Año said the high trust rating of the Marcos administration indicates that the people are satisfied with the performance of the government in delivering services to the people and addressing all concerns and issues, including ensuring the country’s sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.
Marcos’ trust rating remains high, although it dropped significantly in the latest Pulse Asia survey. According to the poll conducted last September, 71 percent of the respondents said they trust the President, lower by 14 points from the 85 percent recorded in June. Some six percent of the survey respondents said they distrust the President while 23 percent were undecided on the matter.
In a media interview last month, Marcos said the ratings drop was not surprising because people were having a hard time with the rising price of rice.
“I completely understand it, and that’s why we’re working very hard to make sure that this (public approval) comes up again – not because of the survey, that’s not important to me. What’s important to me is that we make sure that people have enough to eat and that it is affordable to them,” the President told reporters last Oct. 4.
PNP looking into ‘coup’ reports
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said they are looking into the alleged destabilization attempts against the government.
“With regards to that, we are closely monitoring (the reports),” Acorda told journalists in an interview.
The PNP chief was among the government officials in attendance during the speech of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at a joint session of Congress at the Batasang Pambansa Complex.
Acorda gave assurance that from their side, the PNP is 100 percent behind Marcos, who won the presidency with over 31 million votes in the 2022 elections.
He said police officers strictly follow the rule of law, adding there is no reason for them to be demoralized.
The issue surrounding the PNP, particularly the military and uniformed personnel pension system, was already threshed out with lawmakers and the Department of Finance, Acorda said.
“We don’t see any reason (to go) against the government,” he said. – With additional reports from Jose Rodel Clapano, Emmanuel Tupas and Sheila Crisostomo