THE Palace on Thursday played down speculation that the Liberal Party was working to unseat President Rodrigo Duterte, saying he is secure and has the full support and backing of the military.
“The President is very secure,” said Communications Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Banaag. “He knows that he is working well. It is not all about extrajudicial killing. Governing the Philippines is not all about that. It’s all about the lot of things concerning the Filipino people and alleviating their plight.”
Banaag said there was no need to conduct a loyalty check among government troops since Duterte had “massive support” from the Filipino people.
Banaag made these statements as Duterte assured Vice President Leni Robredo that there is no plot to steal the vice presidency from her, despite his support for her rival, former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“I will assure Leni and the rest of the Bicol region that you will have her until the very end of her term,” Duterte told reporters Thursday.
“There is no such thing as removing the vice president,” he added.
Duterte recently asked Robredo to stop attending Cabinet meetings in Malacañang, citing “irreconcilable differences.” Robredo, in turn, resigned as chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council.
On Thursday, Duterte scored “yellow forces” who are plotting his ouster to install Robredo as president.
Without mentioning names, Duterte apparently referred to the Liberal Party.
“Those yellow people, let them demonstrate. You want me out because you cannot accept defeat,” Duterte said in a speech during the 4th State Conference on the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption.
“This is politics. They wanted me out. Of course they want the vice president. You’ve had your chance,” he added.
Recently, Filipino-American philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis, whom Duterte identified as one of the moving forces behind a plan to launch protest rallies against his administration, urged him to resign after his decision to ease out the vice president and failing to keep his promise to rid the country of drugs and criminality “in three to six months.”
Duterte insisted that it is only the yellow forces who are working to have him removed from office, saying that even the Communists are for him.
“The communists, the New People’s Army, they are all for Duterte,” he said in Filipino.
Duterte also criticized the previous administration of President Benigno Aquino III, saying he left the drug menace untouched.
“When did the drug industry blossom?” Duterte said.
Duterte had earlier issued a warning that he would soon get even with his critics, saying he would deal with them as soon as he is finished addressing the country’s pressing problems.
Liberal Party acting President Francis Pangilinan rejected allegations by the President that the so-called yellows were out to oust him.
“The alleged plot is untrue. There is no such plot,” Pangilinan said. He added that the bulk of the “yellows” have abandoned the LP ship and are now card-carrying members of other parties such as Duterte’s PDP-Laban.
He said being critical of the burial of Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani or being critical of the spate of extrajudicial killings does not mean they wanted Duterte ousted.
“We are in a democracy and dissent and rallies should be seen simply as such in a democracy and should not be viewed as part of a so called larger conspiracy,” he said.
Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon said the LP denied as totally unfounded the allegations that they were planning to oust the President.
“We respect the mandate of our people. But certainly we would state our positions on various positions which were contrary to those of the President,” said Drilon.
“So these are views that we expressed as a party and they have nothing to do with any plan allegedly to oust the President. We deny that categorically,” he said.
In the Senate, he said, they voted for Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, who belongs to the PDP-Laban.
“In fact, in the Senate, what has evolved is we decide on an issue-to-issue basis. For example, the issue on Marcos’ burial, the LP and its allies took the position that Marcos should not be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and the President of the Senate joined us there,” said Drilon.
Duterte’s harshest critic, Senator Leila de Lima, asked the President for specifics.
“May I ask him--what exactly are the yellows doing to purportedly oust him? Are the acts of opposing the Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the death penalty, EJKs, the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility and misogynistic acts and behavior indicative of a plot or plan to oust the President? Of course not! The yellows, including the LP senators, are simply weighing in or making their voices heard on those issues of deep public interest. And, certainly, we’re not doing that to benefit any political figure or promote any political agenda,” said De Lima.
She said the President seems to be forgetting that this is a free country, where all citizens have the right, and even the duty, to speak up about serious issues affecting our nation.
“Labeling people as yellows does not, cannot and should not unclothe them of their rights and duties as citizens,” said De Lima.
“We, as much as everyone else in this nation, are the President’s people--when we speak, should he not listen to us, instead of silencing us or hurling unfounded and paranoid accusations against us?”
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