Oust-Duterte plot exists, only it’s not credible, says Palace
MANILA, Philippines — There is indeed a move to oust President Rodrigo Duterte — only, it is not a “credible plot,” Malacañang said on Wednesday, in response to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s statement dismissing the existence of a destabilization effort supposedly led by independent journalists, activists and lawyers.
In an online interview with a TV network on Tuesday, Lorenzana said military and police intelligence had not detected any “active threat” aimed at unseating the President.
“You would need the military’s support for such [plot] to be credible,” Lorenzana said.
“We have not sensed any active threat, particularly [in terms of] recruiting people,” he said. “If you want to destabilize or topple the government, you have to recruit a lot of people, say, the military, police, local officials.”
Speaking to reporters in Tokyo where the President was attending the 25th Nikkei Conference on the Future of Asia, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there was “no inconsistency” between Malacañang’s statement and Lorenzana’s position.
“What [Lorenzana] meant was that the plot was not capable of being successful; but that was not to say that there was no plot to oust [the President],” Panelo said.
Military, police support
Lorenzana meant that “for [an ouster] plot [to succeed], the plotter has to get the support of [the] military and police,” he said.
“Since there [was] no … military intelligence that there [was] evidence of recruitment, then it [was] not a credible plot,” Panelo said.
The President, he said, “had preempted the realization of the plot” when he exposed it to the public through a diagram early this month.
The diagram included several journalists, an Olympic athlete, activists and lawyers critical of the government.
Some of the people named in the supposed plot have denied involvement.
In Tuesday’s online interview, Lorenzana insisted that there was no threat to topple the government.
He also described Peter Joemel Advincula, who came forward to say he was the “Bikoy” in the “True Narcolist” videos, as a “con man.”
In the videos, Bikoy linked the President and his family and associates to the illegal drug trade. Advincula repeated the allegations when he surfaced on May 6 at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ main office in Pasig City.
After he was arrested by the police for estafa and illegal recruitment, Advincula recanted and instead accused Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and the opposition Liberal Party of being behind the videos.
Lorenzana said the Armed Forces of the Philippines had nothing to do with the investigation of Bikoy, or the diagrams presented in Malacañang of an alleged plot to oust the President, supposedly based on Bikoy’s allegations in the videos.
“The first time [Advincula] came out, I was immediately skeptical. [I thought] what is this guy doing?” Lorenzana said.
‘Too good to be true’
He said Bikoy’s allegations were “too good to be true.”
According to Lorenzana, Bikoy’s “revelations” in the videos were a rehash of previous allegations against the President and his family.
He said Advincula’s sudden turnaround, when he claimed to have been tapped by the Liberal Party to release the True Narcolist videos, confirmed his suspicions.
“How can you believe this guy who will just change his mind or change direction midway? I said let’s not believe him. Until he can substantiate his accusations, that’s the time we will believe,” he said.
Lorenzana added: “Now, I don’t believe him. He’s a con man.”
In the House of Representatives, Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. filed on Tuesday Resolution No. 2585, directing the House committee on information and communications technology to conduct an inquiry on the “liability of certain parties” in the circulation of the videos.
Garbin said the committee would summon executives of social media platforms Facebook and YouTube, where the True Narcolist videos were posted, because they caused “irreparable damage” to the personalities falsely linked to the illegal drug trade.
“We believe that there is an imperative need to determine and inquire into the possible liabilities of the social media platforms, which failed to develop security features and/or filtering practices to regulate unlawful and harmful videos, postings and other materials,” Garbin said.
He expressed disappointment that the Philippine offices of Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube, have failed to respond to a request from businessman Elizaldy Co to take down the videos, which claimed that Co’s Misibis Bay resort was a hub for the illegal drug trade.—With a report from Jeannette I. Andrade and Melvin Gascon
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