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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: From denying hand in destab efforts vs Marcos, Duterte now calls on AFP and PNP to thwart Cha-cha moves

WHAT WAS CLAIMED

Former president Rodrigo Duterte calls on the military and police to intervene to “protect the Constitution” and “correct” the current administration’s purported plan to perpetuate itself in power by amending it.

OUR VERDICT

Flip-flop:

In a Jan. 7 press conference in Davao City, Duterte denied involvement in alleged destabilization efforts against the Marcos administration. He said he had been a president and saw no reason to replace Marcos, saying he was “comfortable” with his successor.

Jan 30, 2024

VERA Files

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From denying involvement in reported destabilization efforts against President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., former president Rodrigo Duterte now repeatedly and publicly calls on the military and police to “protect the Constitution” and “correct” the current administration’s purported plan to perpetuate itself in power by amending it.

Last December, Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez unveiled a plan of the House of Representatives to revisit the 1987 Constitution, eyeing amendments through the people’s initiative.

A few weeks later, news came out that congressmen and other local leaders had been gathering signatures for a people’s initiative to allow the Senate and the House of Representatives to vote jointly in amending the Charter. This was slammed by several government officials, including Vice President Sara Duterte and Sen. Imee Marcos, in view of reports of bribery.

The Dutertes led a prayer vigil against Charter change in Davao City on Jan. 28, coinciding with the kick-off rally in Manila, led by President Marcos, for the administration’s Bagong Pilipinas campaign. 

STATEMENT

In the Davao City rally, the former president called on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to “protect” the Constitution on the heels of allegations of bribery to pursue the current administration’s Charter change moves. He said: 

“I am calling now the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP, protect the Constitution. Trabaho ninyo ‘yan (It’s your job)… You should worry about the nation, the millions of Filipinos. ‘Wag kayong mag-isip lang ng isang pamilya. (Do not think about [the interests of] just one family).”

Source: Rody Duterte Facebook Page, PRAYER RALLY, Jan. 28, 2024, watch from 4:01:24 to 4:01:55

In the same speech, Duterte said the military and the police must intervene should Marcos abuse his power to extend his term:

Kung hindi na talaga ito mapigilan, nand’yan ang military pati pulis. Makinig kayo, pag-aralan ninyo kung ano ‘yang pinapakain nila sa taong bayan at pagka nakita niyo kung ano ang mali, you correct it. Nasa inyong kamay na ‘yan.”

 

(If this can’t be stopped, the military and the police are there. Listen, study whatever they’re feeding the nation and if you see anything wrong, you correct it. It’s in your hands now.)

Source: watch from 3:46:44 to 3:47:11

FACT

In a Jan. 7 press conference also in Davao City, Duterte denied he was behind alleged destabilization efforts against the Marcos administration. He said:

“Why would I bother to tinker with these things? Naging president na ako [I already became president]. For what purpose? To what? To place somebody else in place of Marcos? I’m comfortable with Marcos. Why should I replace him and who am I to replace him at this time of my life?” 

Source: Bangon Pilipinas YouTube channel, LIVE PRESSCON WITH FORMER PRES. RODRIGO DUTERTE, Jan. 7, 2024, watch from 18:02 to 18:38

VERA Files Fact Check: From denying involvement in reported destabilization efforts against President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., former president Rodrigo Duterte now repeatedly and publicly calls on the military and police to “protect the Constitution” and “correct” the current administration’s purported plan to perpetuate itself in power by amending it.

In a November 2023 episode of his program “Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa,” Duterte admitted talking to retired generals and recalled telling them that “rampant” and “uncontrolled” corruption could “bring the government down the drain.” 

He, however, denied his involvement in an alleged destabilization plot and said he could have been misquoted. 

Duterte explained he did not see a “serious issue of corruption” in the Marcos administration that would warrant moves to oust it.

“When we talk about coup d’etat or changing government by force, you talk about it openly para walang duda (so there are no suspicions). For example, if there is [a] really serious issue of corruption, which, I think, is not present right now… wala akong nakita (I do not see) in the horizon… issues enough to create another turmoil,” he said.

BACKSTORY

In a message at the change of command ceremony at the Western Mindanao Command in November 2023, AFP Chief of Staff Romeo Brawner Jr. warned soldiers against participating in any moves to destabilize the current administration. 

He later clarified that he did not mention a destabilization “plot” against Marcos, only “efforts.” 

Kasi ‘pag sinabi nating plot, parang plano na ito na ie-execute na lang. So, ang sinabi ko during my statement was that may mga naririnig tayo na mga ugong-ugong ng mga destabilization efforts,” Brawner explained.

(When we say “plot”, it means it’s a plan ready to be executed. What I said during my statement was we’ve been hearing rumors about destabilization efforts.)

This clarification was echoed by AFP Spokesperson Medel Aguilar who, in a radio interview, said that Brawner was talking about moves by certain individuals to upset the stability of the government, which the military did not see yet as threats to national security.

(Read VERA FILES FACT CHECK: KULANG SA KONTEKSTO ang pahayag ni AFP Chief Brawner tungkol sa umuugong na ‘destabilization’)

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Sources

House to push for charter change

Rody Duterte Facebook Page, PRAYER RALLY, Jan. 28, 2024

Bangon Pilipinas YouTube channel, LIVE PRESSCON WITH FORMER PRES. RODRIGO DUTERTE, Jan. 7, 2024

DZAR 1026, LIVE: ‘Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa’ kasama si dating Pang. Rodrigo Roa Duterte | November 6, 2023, Nov. 6, 2023

Western Mindanao Command, AFP, Joint Change of Command and Chief of Office Ceremony of Western Mindanao Command and office of the Inspector General, AFP, Nov. 3, 2023

GMA News, AFP Chief of Staff Romeo Brawner Jr., may mga naririnig umanong mga ugong na… | 24 Oras Weekend, Nov. 4, 2023

ABS-CBN News, No destabilization plot, only efforts to ‘upset’ Marcos administration: AFP, Nov. 5, 2023

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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