AN administration led by presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte would be vulnerable to a coup, said Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a former Navy officer who led two failed mutinies in 2003 and 2007.
Speaking at a forum organized by the Foreign Correspondents of the Philippines (Focap) Tuesday, Trillanes said most members of the military are averse to any form of power-sharing with the communist movement that the Davao mayor is proposing.
“It is going to be very easy to recruit people for such a military intervention,” said Trillanes.
Trillanes, who recently accused Duterte of failing to report millions of pesos in a secret bank account, said even if the mayor wins on May 9, he takes office on June 30 and there was still time for people to stop him from taking office.
He said the Ombudsman, the Anti-Money Laundering Council and other government agencies were not investigating Duterte’s finances.
“Back in 2001, we found a creative way of removing a sitting president who got mandate from the people,” said Trillanes, referring to ousted President Joseph Estrada.
Trillanes also dared Duterte to file a libel complaint against him.
“My accusations against him was very grave. I am accusing him of having ill-gotten wealth worth P2.4 billion. He can file a libel case against me,” he said.
“But you see, he wont file a libel case… You know why? Because if he files a case against me, the bank accounts now will be exempted from the Bank Secrecy Law.”
Earlier, Trillanes told broadcaster and former vice president Noli de Castro in a radio interview that Duterte was bent on setting up a revolutionary government with the help of Jose Ma. Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
“[Duterte’s] partners are communists, like Joma Sison,” Trillanes said.
“They have an agreement. [Duterte] is really a disciple of Joma Sison and he does not even deny it. But I fear something more serious, not only corruption but a real threat to democracy,” Trillanes said.
“He keeps on saying, ‘This is what we will do, if you really like me, this is what I will do. I will form a revolutionary government, maybe I will have to kill people,’” Trillanes said paraphrasing what Duterte has been saying in his campaign rallies.
Sison himself agreed that a ceasefire between communist rebels and government is possible if Duterte wins the presidency.
In an earlier interview, Sison said the communists would readily speed up negotiations with a Duterte administration.
“He has gone so far as to express interest in a coalition government and in addressing the roots of the armed conflict and working out the necessary agreements on social, economic and political reforms in order to achieve a just and lasting peace,” Sison told journalists last year.
More recently, Sison said he was looking forward to a ceasefire if Duterte becomes president and returning home after living in exile in The Netherlands since 1987.
Duterte had said at Lyceum of the Philippines that Sison was one of his college professors and he played a big role in molding his views, which led him to join the communist-linked Kabataang Makabayan group in the late 1960s.
Sison said he spoke with Duterte last April 26 and the Davao City mayor said he would offer a cessation of hostilities with the communist guerrillas and Muslim secessionist forces once he is president.
Duterte’s publicly declared closeness to Sison and the NPA rebels has caused concern in the military.
His pronouncements have also spooked the business community.
Speaking before the annual economic forum sponsored by the Economic Journalist Association of the Philippines in collaboration with the ING Bank, Makati Business Club chairman Ramon del Rosario hit Duterte for his “lack of respect for the rule of law.”
“The image he created in my mind is a disturbing one. What he probably indicated is a lack of respect for the rule of law. To my mind the rule of law is extremely important if we want to have confidence in our economy,” he said.
He noted that in the Philippine setting, the rule of law is the foundation of knowledge where confidence is built, and where there is confidence there will be investments that will create jobs.
“So if we don’t have investments, we will not have jobs. Then, we will have a problem moving forward,” he added.
He cautioned not only fellow businessmen but the voting public in general to make the right choices and look carefully at what the candidates have been laying out as promises.
Del Rosario singled out Duterte for his penchant for quick fixes and the anarchic mode of resolving issues and problems that can be settled in ways more diplomatic.
“Some people say that’s just tough talk, that he will not do what he says. But the biggest question is, what if he does? Sometimes more than not, we hope that the candidate will do as they promise. This is one time that I hope this one particular candidate will not do [as he] promises,” he said.