Malacañang on Monday shot down rumors that President Rodrigo Duterte has lost the military’s support over his silence on the incursion of China in the West Philippine Sea.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after an anonymous Twitter account claimed there was a Viber group of military officials wanting the president to “denounce China’s invasion in the strongest possible terms.”

It claimed that about 500 military officials were in the Viber group, whose withdrawal of support was “very imminent.”

“Kuwentong kutsero lang po iyan,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.

“Naniniwala po kami na lahat ng ating kasundaluhan ay tapat sa Republika at alam po nila na hindi po talaga panahon para sa pulitika ngayon,” he added.

Roque said people who wanted Duterte out of the presidency should just wait until his presidency ends.

“Isang taon naman po mag-eeleksiyon na pupuwedeng halalin kung sino ang gusto nating halalin. Kung tingin nila na hindi karapat-dapat ang polisiya ng presidente, huwag iboto ang magiging kandidato ng presidente,” he said.

“Pero sa demokrasya po talaga ay mayroong mandato na binibigay ang taumbayan at ang ating Hukbong Sandatahan po nirirespeto ang mandatong iyan.”

Roque earlier said that Duterte was confident that the Philippines’s ties and vaccine cooperation with China would not be affected by brewing tensions over the Julian Felipe Reef.

“We will continue to resolve the issues on Julian Felipe through diplomatic channels and through peaceful means. Whatever differences we have with China will not define our bilateral relations,” Roque said, quoting an official Duterte statement.

On Sep. 23, 2020, during his first United Nations address, Duterte said the country would “firmly reject” any attempts to undermine the 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea.

He reiterated this two months later in front of Southeast Asian leaders.

“The Philippine position is clear and firm. We must solve the disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law, including Unclos,” he said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro