Cayetano says Plan B of LP to remove Duterte under way
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano accused the Liberal Party (LP) of putting “Plan B” into motion, accusing the Senate committee on justice and human rights of putting out witness Edgar Matobato to oust President Duterte.
Cayetano, Mr. Duterte’s defeated vice presidential running mate, grilled Matobato “to get the truth” on the forces that compelled him to come forward and speak about a number of alleged extrajudicial killings in Davao City.
The senator started his tirade by asking the witness what he wanted out of his testimony, pointing out that the President could be ousted by his statements.
“If he (President Duterte) were to be removed, who will become President?” Cayetano asked.
He then followed it up with the questions, “Who among the senators here are the party mates of Vice President Leni Robredo?” and “Is chairperson Leila de Lima a party mate of Leni? You don’t know they’re party mates?”
De Lima, an LP member like Robredo, is the chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights.
He stopped the line of questioning when Matobato told him, “I didn’t vote in the last elections.”
Apparently irritated by De Lima’s interjections in helping out Matobato with dates, Cayetano said: “Madam chair, please do not coach the witness …. That’s why I’m testing his credibility because I’m asking about you. Your motive. The motive of your party in this hearing and that is my right because I am testing whether he is a credible witness of this part of plan B of the Liberal Party to get Malacañang.”
Robredo took offense at Cayetano’s allegation that she would stand to benefit from a supposed LP-backed plot to oust Mr. Duterte.
“We are offended by Senator Cayetano’s accusation that the Liberal Party is plotting to oust the President and that I will be the intended beneficiary of this plan. As I have reiterated time and again, it is not good for the country to go through another period of upheaval, where the common Filipino will suffer the most,” Robredo said in a statement.
She said she assured the Cabinet at their meeting on Wednesday that the LP continues “to support the reforms of this administration” and that there was no such plan to unseat the President.
The Office of the Vice President said the President had left the meeting before Robredo was able to talk to him about the supposed ouster plot.
In a speech on Monday, Mr. Duterte claimed that the “yellow”—referring to the political color of the Liberal Party—wanted to remove him from power.
Robredo said the allegations made by Matobato, who claimed to be one of the first assassins of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS), at the Senate hearing on extrajudicial killings were serious.
“We must exhaust all efforts to get to the truth with due regard for our democratic processes and the rule of law. I enjoin the public to remain vigilant and discerning as the investigation unfolds,” she said.
For his part, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano told the Inquirer that Matobato’s testimony provided “flesh” into the claims that a death squad roamed Davao City.
“Matobato was telling us what he knows,” Alejano said, adding he was inclined to believe that the man was a credible witness with the way he presented his testimony at the Senate hearing.
Still, Alejano said it was imperative that Matobato’s testimony be validated by finding the names of the victims of the DDS, checking police blotters for missing persons or murder reports, and even the courts for cases that may have mentioned the victims.
Like the Vice President, Alejano stressed the importance of finding out the truth.
“If this was the policy of Mr. Duterte when he was mayor of Davao City, he could bring that policy on the national level as President when dealing with drug addicts and criminals. And in fact, we are seeing that now,” Alejano said.
To date, some 3,000 suspected drug pushers and users have been killed nationwide. Some were allegedly killed by vigilante groups while others died supposedly in a shootout with policemen while attempting to escape from the authorities.
The deaths have alarmed world leaders like US President Barack Obama, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and international human rights groups.