"What is the truth behind the ouster plot?"
Yesterday, while having a coffee a friend of mine who was intimately involved in the affairs of the Estrada administration, we recalled with a tinge of sadness the October events including media coverage, local and international, and, yes, surveys peppering the public mind during that period. My friend was particularly concerned that the revelations about a “Red October” plot to oust President Duterte is increasingly being discredited as ‘alarming’ and preposterous by various groups a number of which are associated with the core anti-Duterte critics.
“It is a pity,” my friend noted, that the security forces and, of course, the administration’s information net have been unable so far to convey the seriousness of the threat against Duterte and with it the very essence of democratic governance and the people’s choice. After all, my friend harkened to note, despite his many indiscretions and ill-implemented initiatives, he is our duly elected president and plotting to oust him in the middle of his term is tantamount to treason in peace times. It is a betrayal of the people’s choice.
So what was his message? Despite the bumbling of the security forces and the administration’s information net, there really is a serious effort to oust the President before the end of his term. The tell-tale signs of such a move are all over the place if we go by the Estrada experience, as it were. And he directly pointed to elements within the US government (the deep state?) and anti-Duterte critics as the main players in this ouster play. I am no conspiracy theorist but I have to admit there is a possibility no matter how remote that what my friend told me is really in play and is likely to accelerate towards the end of the year up to early next year. The tell-tale signs of such a movement are quite compelling.
Remember, he said, early in President Duterte’s term, there was already a brawl, if we may call it such, between the newly installed administration and certain groups within the US government and their allies, in and out of America, resulting from the regime-change prescriptions of then US Ambassador Philip Goldberg. Goldberg, a veteran diplomat-disrupter, has been credited with managing regime change in at least two South American countries presided over by chief executives who were, in the eyes of his Washington bosses and their allies, were potential pains in the neck in the advancement of US interests.
As a result, Goldberg was about to be declared persona non grata by the administration but was recalled soon enough before that happened. It took some time before Malacanang accepted a new US envoy and even a longer time before it named our own ambassador to Washington. But relations between our two countries had hardly thawed specially since early on PRRD announced that we will be adopting a more independent foreign policy, friends to all, enemy to none, and proceeded to enhance our relations and exchanges with China and Russia, both of whom are considered major rivals of the United States.
Just to put across that point, President Duterte has visited China thrice and Chinese President Xi Jingping is expected to make a state visit to Manila next month. Mr. Duterte has also visited Russia though the trip was cut short for a day due to the Marawi ISIS take over. On the other hand, as of this wrirting, I have not heard of any plans for him to visit America which is quite unthinkable considering our long-standing ties with that country. In fact, in earlier times, a state visit to Washington by a Philippine president was considered top priority and usually happens almost immediately after the turnover to the new Malacañang occupant.
And what has the increasing frequency of surveys being conducted and played out got to do with the ouster moves? Well, he said, these are meant to condition the public mind and loosen up public support for the administration as a prelude to an active oust campaign, the main elements of which have been and will continue to be played out up to the first quarter of 2019.
But before the critics jump like monkeys as a result of the reported dropping of PRRD’s rating, they should take a look at the core findings and the public pulse on key gut political and economic issues which belie the highly negative headlines in traditional media.
Basically, the SWS said that PRRD ratings remain “very good” despite the continuing criticisms bordering on sedition being hurled his way and the drop in his ratings. Per the latest SWS survey, PRRDs net satisfaction rating remained “very good” at 50 percent but was dismal if compared to the 60-percent rating he got just three months back.
The third quarter survey conducted from September 15 to 23 showed that 65 percent are satisfied with PRRD while only 19 percent were dissatisfied. This is understandable, considering the extent of frustration of most of those in the C, D & E classes with high prices, traffic and other quality- of-life indicators.
The one thing going for the administration which was not present during the Estrada administration is President Duterte’s hands-on efforts to curb the decline in public support. He has been tireless in his visits to camps, key sectors and communities in a rare display of active face-to-face interaction with a public that is anxious about the state of things. Then, there is PRRDs no-nonsense drive against corruption which in the eyes of the people has enhanced his moral standing.
Of course, in the key issues of concern which the SWS survey looked into, it is clear that a majority of our people continue to laud the ongoing efforts to alleviate our people’s situation and somehow ignite optimism that things will turn out for the better sooner rather than later.
Out of the 15 issues raised, five have improved to “very good” territory such as public works, poverty alleviation, Marawi reconstruction, human rights protection and counter-terrorism.
On the “good’ category” you have fighting crimes, reconciling with communists, maintaining foreign relations, defending sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea and fighting corruption. The worst rating was in the government’s action to ensure no Filipino family will go hungry.
So there. With such an outcome it remains to be seen whether my friend’s worst scenario—that is, a disruptive regime change—will ever come to pass sooner than we can stabilize our situation, strengthen our democratic process and move on to greater heights. It is our duty, all of us, to ensure that such will never happen again.