The military and police remain loyal to President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang insisted Saturday, as it scored exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison, whom it said was “out of touch” with the situation of his party’s rebels on the ground.
“Well obviously Joma Sison is surely out of touch. He’s far from the Philippines, he’s stayed a long time in the Netherlands, and whatever we say about the technology we have available nowadays, if we don’t talk to the people on the ground, we will never have a pulse on things,” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a radio interview.
Earlier, Sison said the one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao and its possible nationwide implementation will lead to the withdrawal of support of the country’s security forces from Duterte, and will move to overthrow him in the same way that former presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada were removed from power.
“In such an eventuality, the CPP and NPA [New People’s Army] would be happy with the limitation of bloodshed and with the resumption of peace negotiations … under a new president or a transitory people’s commission,” Sison said.
Andanar insisted on the loyalty of state troops, who he described as a “force to reckon with” under Duterte.
“I believe the AFP and police are strong... They are number one in terms of loyalty to the President and the country. And I know that the AFP and the Philippine National Police are overwhelmingly very powerful and really a force to reckon with,” he added.
The President had earlier designated the CPP, as well as its armed wing, the NPA, as a “terrorist organization” following the collapse of peace talks with the rebels.
Among the reasons Duterte raised in canceling the talks was the communist rebels’ goal to form a “coalition government”—an idea he himself had floated earlier in the presidency—and what he thought was the communist rebels’ lack of sincerity.