‘It’s the truth,’ says Alejano on pullout of troops from disputed territories

FORMER Marine captain turned lawmaker Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list maintained on Sunday that he was telling the truth when he revealed that President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the military to pull out its patrols in the West Philippine Sea because of Manila’s “friendship with Beijing”, saying that a military source relayed the information to him personally.

“What I said is the truth. I am 100 percent sure. The source, who is in authority, relayed [to]me the information. The instruction to them really was to stop patrolling Scarborough Shoal and the West Philippine Sea because it won’t benefit us and we will run the risk of offending China. But the Armed Forces did not agree to it because to do so would violate their mandate under the Constitution,” Alejano said in a radio interview.

The 1987 Constitution states that “the Armed Forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people and the state”, and that “its goal is to secure the sovereignty of the state and the integrity of the national territory.”

“And so, a negotiation ensued and a compromise was reached. Patrols will be there once a month. But even this compromise is hardly followed. There are times when patrols are deployed every three months [instead of every month]. Worse, there are times when there are no patrols at all. I am making this public because I want to speak for those who can’t make this public. I won’t say something unless there is basis. I don’t fabricate stories,” Alejano said.

Alejano said it was expected of the military to deny his claims because it follows a chain of command and President Duterte is the Commander-in-Chief, but it didn’t mean that what he said was not true.

“Before I made this public, I expected the government to deny it. If there is a problem like that, they will not say it in public, and I understand that, but it doesn’t mean that I’m just making up stories. I will not do that,” Alejano said.

Alejano’s disclosure came a day after it was reported on television that Chinese coastguard were forcibly taking the catch of Filipino fishermen in the Scarborough Shoal where the Philippines shares fishing rights with China and other countries.

It was also Alejano who revealed that Chinese troops were harassing the Philippine Navy, which was on a re-provisioning mission for Filipino troops in Ayungin Shoal, which lies within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, last May 11. LLANESCA T. PANTI


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