DND, AFP deny claims of their withdrawal of support for Duterte

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 18) — Military and defense officials debunked claims that they have withdrawn their support for President Rodrigo Duterte, branding them as "irresponsible propaganda" and "disinformation" by the government's detractors.

Top officials of the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines issued separate statements on Sunday, dismissing rumors making the rounds on social media about the existence of an alleged Viber group of active and retired military personalities withdrawing their support for the commander-in-chief.

"This is fake news! I am not, and will never be, a part of any such group — neither are the officials at the Department of National Defense, many of whom are also retired military officers," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

The defense chief branded the rumors as "irresponsible propaganda" and "an act of reckless agitation emanating from detractors."

"We call on these destabilizers to cease from propagating malicious statements especially at a time when our people should all be coming together in the face of the challenges that we are all currently facing," Lorenzana said. "You are not helping our country and people at all."

AFP chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana echoed the same sentiments, adding that the rumors were only meant "to create panic and confusion."

"We advise the public to remain calm and dismiss them as another disinformation," he said.

"We will focus on our mission and continue to perform our constitutional mandates. We will veer away, as we appeal to all quarters to spare your AFP from partisan politics," Sobejana added.

The AFP chief also denied social media posts that there were "warplanes" from various countries taking off and landing at Clark Airbase in Pampanga.

"We have issued a statement dismissing that SMS as fake news. No such landings or taking off of aircraft from other countries are taking place. The AFP is on normal alert as opposed to the claim of that spurious sender," he said.