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Duterte shrugs off alleged coup plot

MJ Blancaflor

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President Rodrigo Duterte was unbothered by reports that some active and retired military officers have been plotting to oust him over his supposed inaction in China’s occupation in the West Philippine Sea, the Palace said Monday.

Duterte’s spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque tagged as “idle talk” reports that the commander in chief was losing military support, saying the Armed Forces of the Philippines remain loyal to the President and to the country.

“That’s just idle talk. We believe that the military remains loyal to the Republic,” Roque said in a televised briefing.

The Palace official also said the alleged ouster plot was “untimely” amid the coronavirus pandemic and the forthcoming presidential elections.

He added that if the state forces were unsatisfied with Duterte’s policies, they may opt to vote for the opposition’s bet in the 2022 elections.

“They know that it is not a time for politics and we will hold elections next year,” Roque said.

“If they think that the President’s policies were no longer appropriate, then they should not vote for his candidate, but in a democracy, the mandate to [choose a leader] was given to the public and our Armed Forces respects that mandate,” he added.

In the past week, a Twitter account dubbed “Info Ops” has been posting about an alleged Viber group composed of 500 military officers who would supposedly withdraw their support to the President if he does not take a stronger stance against China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

The alleged Viber group has floated amid questions on Duterte’s silence over the presence of some 200 Chinese ships at the Julian Felipe Reef, located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone about 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza, Palawan — despite strongly-worded statements from his defense and foreign affairs officials.

Roque defended the President for not speaking publicly about Chinese ships, as he invoked the constitutional doctrine of “qualified political agency” which postulates that the statements and actions of the President’s alter egos were his acts unless he said otherwise.

“If he has not disowned the pronouncements of his alter egos, then that is his statement, too,” Roque said in response to a query on why the President remained mum on the matter.

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