Reports of supposed moves to oust President Rodrigo Duterte are nothing more than desperate attempts to discredit the popular Chief Executive.
National Security Adviser (NSA) Hermogenes Esperon Jr. pointed this out Tuesday, stressing that the strong support of the masses have allowed the President to weather the common goal pursued by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) and the groups identified with political opposition.
They all failed, was how Esperon belittled new talks swirling around so-called ouster plots.
“Even when Mayor Rody (Mr. Duterte’s nickname) was just elected (as president), those oust-Duterte and topple US-Duterte regime immediately cropped up. According to them, they were CPP-NPA,” Esperon told Daily Tribune.
“Then came Tindig (Pilipinas), Movement Against Tyranny and others. They thought they could recruit,” he added.
In 2018, the military bared the “Red October” plot by the CPP-NPA and the political opposition which was designed to remove Mr. Duterte from office. However, the move was nipped in the bud and failed to muster support.
Esperon was the second former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who dismissed any chance of an oust-Duterte plot.
On Monday, retired Gen. Dionisio Santiago said that plot against Mr. Duterte is like “going against a solid concrete wall” citing the wide support being enjoyed by the President both from the civilian sector and uniformed services.
Santiago said that no other president except for Mr. Duterte gave so much importance to the welfare of the members of the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Both Esperon and Santiago are considered veterans in warding off coup plots — having defended the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from military adventurists.
As Army chief, Esperon warded off attempts, including the 27 July 2003 by the mutinous Magdalo Group, to topple the Arroyo administration
Esperon stressed that despite these attempts to oust Mr. Duterte, the President’s trust and approval ratings, as shown by latest surveys, remained high with less than three years left in his term.
The NSA said that the groups against the Duterte presidency are now desperate for their failure.
“They are mourning because instead of going down, the approval rating of Mayor Rody continues to rise,” Esperon pointed out. “It’s an impossible shot.”
At a press briefing in Malacañang, Chief presidential Legal Counsel and spokesman Salvador Panelo also junked the possibility that the latest plot against Mr. Duterte could gain ground.
Panelo said that any attempt against the Duterte administration will not gain any traction.
“That’s wishful thinking. It’s a pipe dream. It will never come into fruition,” he said.
Panelo also noted pronouncements by the AFP leadership in support of the Commander-in-Chief.
“The military is 100 percent in support of the President,” he added.
A group called “Bunyog,” led by a certain Ricky Tomotorgo, who his followers claim uses the alias Enzo Recto (insurrecto), is calling for the ouster of Mr. Duterte.
The group is allegedly using social media to solicit funding for the move slated on 22 February — the first day of the 1986 EDSA revolution.
In a letter to Quezon City Police District, Tomotorgo requested permission for “Bunyog” to hold a prayer vigil starting at 12 noon on 22 February “aimed at renewing the ideals of ‘People Power’ and at calling for socio-civic political awareness and action from the Filipino people.”
“Bunyog” sought permission to conduct its activities at the People Power Monument along EDSA. Tomotorgo signed as national chairman of “Bunyog.”
On the other hand, Tindig Pilipinas, which is identified with the political opposition and the liberals, is set to celebrate EDSA People Power on 25 February in a totally unrelated event to that of “Bunyog.”
There were reports yesterday that Vice President Leni Robredo did not want to be associated with “Bunyog” and Tomotorgo.
Among the issues being raised against the Duterte administration are the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the United States, the spread of the dreaded coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), press freedom in view of the questioned ABS-CBN franchise, the arrest order against former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, the continued detention of Sen. Leila de Lima and many other issues hounding the presidency.
Meanwhile, Panelo said the President will just be staying in Davao City on 25 February which was declared as a holiday.
“He will just be in Davao City. There will be no work on that day,” he added.