Is there really a homegrown plot to topple President Rodrigo Duterte? The only open intelligence available to the public is the so-called LeniLeaks which does not really tell us much. Quite frankly, it is hard to say.
If there such an effort, how easy would it be for a leader with 83-percent approval rating to be ousted? A coup is not a walk in the park and those planning it must be prepared to pay with their lives if they fail. Maybe what the LeniLeaks is telling us is the beginning of an effort to topple the Duterte administration. One problem of the would-be plotters is the lack of a forceful leader. It is difficult to see how VP Robredo with 63-percent approval rating could lead in the ouster of President Duterte.
To be fair to the Vice President, she has denied any participation in any plot. One would think that the era of the coups is long gone. But sadly, we still see it happening occasionally. Coups and other forms of toppling governments are different in every country. Our neighbor Thailand follows the traditional military coup where the military would simply topple the government regardless of whetherit enjoys the support of the voting public. This is what happened there in their last two coups. The governments of Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister were toppled even if their governments were popular. Now, Thailand is ruled by the Thai Army.
Pakistan also practices the traditional military coup and the Pakistani Army wields so much influence over the country even if the government is civilian. It has been said that the Pakistani Army is the only army in the world that owns a country.
Just recently, a faction of the Turkish army attempted a coup but failed, resulting in a massive retaliation by President Tayyip Erdogan.
African countries follow a somewhat different model. There, junior officers can take over a country. In the recent incident in the Ivory Coast, the military engaged in a mutiny because they were not getting paid on time. This resulted in the temporary detention of the Defense Minister.
In our country, we have seen two governments toppled in a relatively peaceful fashion. It is now called all over the world as People Power Revolution. The model developed here is the need for the military and the civilian factions wanting to topple the government to come to a tactical alliance for the single purpose of removing the government. This was what happened to the Marcos and Estrada governments.
In the Marcos model, the military faction that led the uprising, had to be supported by civilians to make the takeover successful. The military could not have done it alone. In the Estrada case, it was the civilians that needed the military in order to make the takeover successful.
In this current alleged plot to topple the Duterte government, nothing is clear at all. As we have seen in our past two experiences, the extra-legal overthrow of governments by only one faction cannot succeed. There is a need to forget ideological differences to come together for a common purpose. There is no sign that this is even happening now. If there is, it is perhaps just starting to germinate. And looking at the alleged participants, it is a bunch that does not inspire confidence. Loida Nicolas Lewis, the alleged Fil-Am financier who lives in New York, is likely out of touch with the realities of the hardships of living in this country.
The alleged beneficiary, in case the Duterte government is toppled, is VP Robredo. She is so politically inexperienced that it is hard seeing her able to take over a government in a crisis situation—let alone lead it.
Of course, given time, she may be able, but right now, it is hard to see that happening. Besides, the actual beneficiary of any successful takeover would be former President Aquino and his cohorts. Some officials in the Duterte government are probably right, in saying that there is no need to investigate the alleged plot and that there is no law violated when someone dreams.
Also, the support President Duterte enjoys from the police and military is rock solid and there is no sign of it softening. This may have been the reason why former President Ramos remarked that there is no impending coup d’ etat. What we have, he said jokingly, is a “coup be ta” which elicited a roar of laughter from his audience.
In the case of the Marcos ouster, it took many years before the attempt was launched. In the case of President Estrada, it took a much shorter time because the spark needed was there and the timing was also right and before long President Estrada was out of office.
Assuming that there really is such an effort to topple President Duterte and following the lessons of the last two successful extra-legal overthrow of the existing political power, there really should be more solid evidence apparent on the ground instead of just the so-called LeniLeaks. There should be a faction of the military and police working behind scenes but there is none. As they say, where there is smoke, there is fire.
Since there is no smoke being detected, does it mean that there is no plot? Not necessarily. As the old Chinese proverb tells us, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Prudence also dictate that it is always helpful to be wise and careful.