Press Release
September 12, 2018

Dispatch from Crame No. 381:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima's Statement on Duterte's Diatribe vs the Military


The President is heartbroken. For two hours yesterday afternoon, he poured his heart out to Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo - Malacañang's new Boy Abunda - on how the AFP has jilted him in exchange for Senator Trillanes. In their version of what was admittedly a "showbiz" talk show that was broadcast nationwide at government expense, Duterte showed that hell hath no fury like a President scorned by his own military.

Duterte engaged in a diatribe against the military for choosing Trillanes over him. Of course, the choice that the AFP made was not between Duterte or Trillanes. The choice that the AFP made was between upholding the rule of law or implementing an illegal arrest. The choice the AFP made was between its institutional integrity or loyalty to a Commander-in-Chief who disrespected the institution by dragging its chain of command to a personal political fight.

Duterte thought that by using the AFP against Trillanes, he can prove once and for all who is the boss. The test backfired, after the AFP promised to uphold the Constitution and protect the people, instead of following an order that was illegal on its face, even if it came from the President.

Duterte should learn his lesson here. He bit more than he can chew when he pushed the AFP to choose between their institution's integrity and unity, on the one hand, and, on the other, loyalty to a petty President who has no understanding whatsoever of the cost in blood with which the military has purchased such integrity and unity in its history.

Instead, what was witnessed yesterday was Duterte belittling the PMA and the camaraderie of its graduates based on the mistah culture, a brotherhood that only springs from the shedding of blood in battle, something that a cowardly goon and provincial warlord like Duterte will never understand.

Duterte will never earn the respect of the officers of the AFP if he cannot go beyond the petty urge to use them and sacrifice their institution just to satisfy his personal longing to see Trillanes locked up in jail. Yesterday, his bitterness just showed to the AFP how such a small man he is, incapable of foregoing pettiness and selfish interests.

Most importantly, he showed the AFP how dangerous he is to them, if he is only too willing to put the AFPs integrity and unity on the line just to satisfy his own personal and selfish interests.

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