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Duterte exposes plot to oust him; opposition, Reds deny allegations

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MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has accused Senator Antonio Trillanes of being in cahoots with the Liberal Party (LP) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in a plot to oust him from office by October.


President Duterte said the information was supplied by a foreign power, which he did not want to name to protect its identity.

"Trillanes has been sleeping with the enemy (the CPP)," Duterte said in a press briefing during his arrival last week at the Davao International Airport from his state visits in Israel and Jordan. On Tuesday, Sept. 11, Duterte repeated the same accusation on national television conversation with Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.


Duterte said the alliance plans to launch the ouster plot into high gear in October — the period for filing of the certificates of candidacy for the 2019 midterm elections.


The President, however, said he is not perturbed by any ouster plot, saying: "I am ready to step down anytime."


Duterte said even the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) need not intervene if its officials want to join Trillanes and cohorts to overthrow the government.


"I will just invite them (Army officials) for coffee. If they want I can administer the oath (of office for) whoever wants the position. What will follow di ko na problema (What will follow will no longer be my problem)," he told reporters.


Duterte said he has evidence to back up the information, although disclosing this would be detrimental to the source.


If compelled by the court, however, Duterte said he would release the information.


"Watch out for these groups," Duterte warned.

 

 “They have combined and we have the evidence and we have the conversation provided by a foreign country sympathetic to us,” Duterte said a televised tête-à-tête with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo at the Malacañang Palace.

 

Duterte said the foreign country, which he did not identify, has agreed to his request to declassify the conversation and “show it to everyone”.

 

Nahihigop lahat eh. Alam nila ‘yan. (Everything can be monitored. They know it) So they were in constant communication. They are. It might be a loose conspiracy but they are into it,” Duterte said.

 

He said the connection “will be shown maybe any day now.”

 

Senator Trillanes, Liberal Party president Sen. Francis Pangilinan and CPP-NPA leader Jose Ma. Sison and other opposition leaders denied Duterte’s claims.

 

Sison called Duterte a "congenital liar and an incorrigible political swindler," who was bluffing when he claimed he had evidence that the CPP, Trillanes, and the Liberal Party were plotting to oust him.

 

"And I challenge him to present publicly what he claims as recorded conversations," said Sison in a social media post. "The experts will easily expose the fakery if he dares to present anything. This could be something like his invented foreign bank accounts of Trillanes."

 

The communist leader also denied that there had ever been any discussion between the CPP, Trillanes, and the Liberal Party on ousting Duterte.

 

The President, however, clarified that he will not stop the military and police if they believe he is no longer competent as president.

 

“I said my clear stand on the matter. If the armed forces think that I am not competent, that I am not qualified to be sitting here as President, I have discussed this matter with them in a command conference, bahala kayo (it’s up to you),” Duterte said.

 

“If you want another President, fine. I will not allow you to fight your own soldiers. So I would not allow my soldiers to kill another soldier or a policeman shooting another soldier. Eh kalokohan ‘yan (That’s ridiculous),” he added.

 

Duterte said he has fulfilled his promise to the military and police but if they think Trillanes can give them better. “I urge you to go to Trillanes,” he added.

 

He lambasted Trillanes for cursing all governments and committing ruckus when the latter spearheaded failed coup attempts against then president and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

 

Duterte said Trillanes did even dare to visit the poor soldiers who fought against terrorists during the five-month Marawi City siege last year.

 

“I’m giving you (soldiers) a fighting chance. And when they said I doubled the salary, I doubled it long before Marawi. It was a campaign promise and I complied. Pero kung tingin ninyo mga sundalo na mas mabuti si Trillanes pati si Aquino (But if you think Trillanes and also Aquino is better), please kindly go to them and stage whatever you want. Pakita sa buong Pilipinas na kaya ninyo (Show to the whole Philippines that you can),” he said.

 

“I am challenging the Magdalo to start now. Kung sigurado ninyo na sa inyo ang sundalo, fine (If you’re sure that the soldiers are with you, it’s fine),” he added.

 

Duterte also denied Trillanes’ accusation that he is a dictator and that he is out to silence the senator and other opposition members.

 

“I have yet to sign anything, ordering the arrest and silencing of anybody in the government, especially the critics. The fact that they are doing it every day, it goes to show that I’m giving them the time of their lives to just talk and talk. Wala naman (nothing). It’s an invented phrase, that silencing,” Duterte said.

 

The President said Senator Leila de Lima, an opposition lawmaker, is jailed because she has pending case, referring to her illegal drug case.

 

Duterte maintained that the New People’s Army is a terrorist group.

 

“But everyday throughout the country, they are killing barangay (village) captains, those sympathetic with government, even soldiers. Those are violations of… they are terrorists,” Duterte said.

 

Sison, as a terrorist, should face trial, he said.

 

“As a terrorist, I do not see any leeway or enough elbow room for him to move around,” he added. 


Duterte said he was also not keen on checking the loyalty of military officials, although he noted that Trillanes hails from the military.


“At the beginning of my term as President, I’ve had several discussions and far and in between the months that followed, I’ve always stressed to the uniformed people of our government that they should not nurture in me or in anybody else in my Cabinet and government, loyalties,” he said.


He recalled telling the military officials: “You should focus your loyalty to the flag of the Philippines and the Constitution. I do not need loyalties.” 


He pointed out that he was elected as President and intends to serve the people.

“Well, ako magtrabaho lang. Kung ayaw ng Pilipino eh ‘di talagang bababa ako. Walang problema ‘yan (Well, I will just work. If the Filipinos do not want me then I will step down. There is no problem,” he said.


“I'm old. I am ready to step down anytime. Short of working it out for the last remaining years of my term,” Duterte added. 

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