National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (File photo)

MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Sunday denied online posts claiming that a group of retired and active military officers are withdrawing their support for President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

"We denounce the irresponsible propaganda being propagated in online posts alleging that a group of retired and active military officers are withdrawing their support for the President," he said in a statement.

Lorenzana also called the social media posts as fake news, saying he and other DND officials will never be part of such groups.

"This is fake news! I am not, and will never be, a part of any such group -- neither are the officials at the DND, many of whom are also retired military officers," he said.

He added that such disinformation is an act of reckless agitation emanating from detractors, who have a limited and myopic appreciation of the issues.

"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. You are not helping our country and people at all," he added.

Lorenzana was referring to the alleged demand of so-called "Viber 500" and the retired generals in the Cabinet, except vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, for Duterte to denounce China's encroachment in the West Philippine Sea.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana dismissed the alleged existence of a Viber group with claimed membership from among senior and junior officers both active and retired.

Sobejana said he will disavow the presence or association of officers and enlisted personnel if a group with such kind of mindset will be created in the future.

The sinister post comes after another message made rounds in social media about “warplanes” from various countries taking off and landing in Clark Airbase, 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," Sobejana added.

He said it is obvious that the motive of these malicious posts is to create panic and confusion.

"We advise the public to remain calm and dismiss them as another disinformation. The AFP is a professional organization committed to safeguard democracy and protect its democratic institutions," he added.

Sobejana said the AFP will focus on its mission and continue to perform its constitutional mandates.

"We will veer away, as we appeal to all quarters to spare your AFP from partisan politics," he added.

He also said the country is already saddled with numerous challenges that the AFP must face than be distracted by people, groups, and associations advancing their own agenda.

"We assure our people that your soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines are firmly behind the chain-of-command," he added. (PNA)