Coup not happening in PH, says Lorenzana

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    DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday dismissed a military coup occurring in the Philippines, saying the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police are satisfied with the leadership of President Duterte.

    Lorenzana made the comment in reaction to the coup in Myanmar yesterday against the democratically elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained along with other leaders of her National League for Democracy party. The Myanmar army said it seized power because of election fraud, and imposed a state of emergency for one year.

    “Will never happen,” said Lorenzana on the possibility of a coup in the Philippines.

    The last time the military played a role in unseating a president was in January 2001 when the Armed Forces leadership withdrew its support from then President Joseph Estrada amid allegations of corruption. Then Vice President Gloria Arroyo was then sworn into the presidency.

    “First, Myanmar is ruled by a military junta. We are not,” said Lorenzana, in dismissing a Myanmar-type coup in the Philippines.

    “Second, the military and police are happy with PRRD (Duterte). He has our full support,” said Lorenzana.

    A third reason, he said, is that President Duterte “enjoys very high approval rating,” pointing to the 91 percent approval rating of the President based on a survey by the Pulse Asia released in October last year.

    The Department of Foreign Affairs said the Philippine Embassy in Myanmar is in touch with members of the Filipino community in Myanmar “through WhatsApp.”

    There were about 1, 270 Filipinos living and working in Myanmar as of last year.

    The embassy urged the Filipinos to remain calm and to stay at their homes for the meantime.

    “Please also make sure that you are included in the Embassy township coordination group,” the embassy said in an advisory, adding that those not yet included in the group should send a message to the embassy Facebook page so they can be connected with the assigned coordinator in their respective areas.

    Filipinos may also call the embassy through landline 01558149-153 or the embassy hotline at 09250765938 if they need emergency assistance.

    Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. likened the development to a “chess move” more than a power grab by the military.

    “Reports from Myanmar indicates a chess move but not a coup on the party of MDS, the CIC (commander-in-chief) committed to respect the 2008 Constitution which respects military role. We’re not depending on Western narratives. Last time world did, Libya ended up in pieces picked up by Western powers. Before reacting, let’s watch and see for ourselves. Don’t depend on Western narratives,” Locsin said on Twitter.

    Locsin was referring to the Western intervention in Libya in 2011 that resulted in the ouster of long-time strongman Muammar Khadafi from power. Since then, Libya has not had a strong central government. — With Ashzel Hachero