A group claiming to be officers and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) called for the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte for “betrayal of public trust.”
In a statement issued Monday, the Patriotic and Democratic Movement (PADEM) said they condemn and hold Duterte accountable for alleged gross crimes that violate national sovereignty and democratic rights of the people.
“We pledge to work for the withdrawal of military and police support for Duterte and his administration in conjunction with mass mobilization of the Filipino people in millions to manifest their demand for the resignation or ouster of Duterte and his administration,” the group’s spokesperson Antonio Bonifacio said.
PADEM said Duterte and his administration committed the following crimes:
- Treating the AFP and the PNP as these were his private armies and practising favoritism and violating professional and service standards in the promotion and assignment of officers;
- Corrupting the PNP and the AFP with a system of monetary awards for the extrajudicial killing of alleged illegal drug users and of NPA suspects;
- Condoning and protecting top-level illegal drug lords (including Davao City vice mayor Paolo Duterte) and protectors (at the level of governors and generals);
- Emboldening /Inciting police officers to engage in extrajudicial killings of poor suspected illegal drug users and pushers by publicly telling officers to plant evidence and by guaranteeing their pardon and promotion in case of conviction;
- Aggravating corruption in government and criminality through the collusion of Duterte trustees and crime syndicates;
- Allowing China to occupy maritime features in the West Philippine Sea and to violate Philipine sovereign rights upheld by decision of the Arbitral Tribunal in accordance with the UN Convention on he Law of the Sea;
- Bungling the operations in Marawi City and indiscrinately destroying lives and property through aerial bombings, artillery and mortar;
- Favoring certain Chinese businessmen and Duterte relatives and cronies in the award of projected infrastructure projects using loans from China;
- Betraying the sovereign rights of the Filipino people by making the Philippines a debt vassal of China and offering to China the oil and gas resources under the West Philippine Sea as collateral for Chinese loans; and
- Seeking to replace the partnership with the United States in matters of national security with an even more lopsided relationship with China and Russia.
“Upon the change of administration, we pledge to follow the principle of civilian supremacy and support a new civilian administration, in accordance with the 1987 Constitution and the rule of law,” Bonifacio said.
PADEM is the first group of disgruntled AFP and PNP personnel to form and call for Duterte’s ouster.
Unfounded and uncalled for
The AFP quickly downplayed the group and declared its full support to Duterte.
“The AFP categorically denies the recent statement issued by a group that pretends to be representative of the men and women of the AFP and the PNP that calls itself the Patriotic and Democratic Movement (PADEM),” AFP spokesperson BGen. Restituto Padilla Jr., said.
“Such issues are clearly politically motivated and a matter that the AFP does not and will not subscribe to,” he said.
Padilla warned the military will act against forces that undermine the Duterte government, especially through unconstitutional means.
“Current developments and issues that this group wishes to take advantage of is now being addressed by the Department of Justice and parties to a possible crime are now under detention. Let us respect these processes and not allow ourselves to be used by individuals or groups with vested interests,” he said.
“The AFP appeals to the public and the various political groups to respect the apolitical stance of the AFP and help bring unity and healing instead of fomenting divisiveness and collapse,” he added.
The AFP and the Philippine Constabulary-PNP, however, has contributed to the ouster of Presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada by their withdrawal of support in 1986 and 2001, respectively.
Corrupt and cruel regime
PADEM, however, immediately earned the support of a former officer and Philippine Military Academy (PMA) professor.
“Fellow PMAers, let us join the Patriotic and Democratic Movement (PADEM),” Professor Dante Simbulan said on his Facebook account.
A member of PMA Class of 1952, Simbulan returned to his alma mater in 1965 after active field duty in the AFP.
But Simbulan left the PMA in 1967 due to “more disillusionment,” saying the PMA only produces soldiers for the status quo.
He was credited for influencing Lts. Crispin Tagamolila and Victor Corpuz who both defected to the New People’s Army and inviting Jose Maria Sison to lecture at the academy.
Strongman Ferdinand Marcos detained Simbulan for three years from 1974 without charges. In 2016, he published the book “Whose Side Are We On?”
“It is time to put an end to this (Duterte’s) corrupt and cruel regime!” Simbulan said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)