No LP ouster plot vs Duterte, Pangilinan reiterates
MANILA, Philippines—The Liberal Party (LP) has nothing to do with alleged ouster moves against President Rodrigo Duterte, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said Friday.
This after the issue was raised again in Thursday’s Senate inquiry on the spate of drug-related deaths under the Duterte administration, with the President’s close ally and defeated running mate Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano suspecting that the investigation could be “LP’s plan to take back Malacañang.”
“We deny being involved in any ouster effort. This accusation is unfounded and baseless,” said Pangilinan in a text message Thursday.
He said criticism of the President’s anti-drug war should not be readily taken as efforts to remove him from power.
The President, swept to power by strong public support particularly in social media, has remained highly popular despite recent gaffes and amid international criticism over his bloody war against illegal drugs.
“Criticisms on the conduct of the campaign against illegal drugs should not be construed as efforts directed at ousting the President,” said Pangilinan.
His partymates in the chamber, such as Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon, Sen. Leila de Lima and Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, earlier denied any such plot, saying members of former President Benigno Aquino III’s “yellow” bloc have not even met recently.
The LP is part of the majority coalition in the Senate, aligning with the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), the President’s party.
At a Senate hearing on Thursday, Cayetano, a Nacionalista party member fiercely loyal to the President, confronted confessed hitman Edgar Matobato and De Lima on the motives behind his testimony.
Matobato had implicated Duterte in vigilante slays in Davao City, saying the President was behind the creation of the notorious Davao Death Squad.
“I want to show that there is a possible motive to destroy the President here… I’m asking about you [Sen. De Lima], your motive, and the motive of your party in this hearing… I am testing whether [the witnesses are credible] or is this part of the ‘plan B’ of the Liberal Party to take back Malacañang,” said Cayetano, who lost his vice presidential bid to the LP’s Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo in the May elections.
To Matobato, Cayetano said: “I’m testing whether what you’re saying is true or not… If this is just a drawing, an invention, and if you were brought here to bring down the administration,” he said. RAM/rga
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