MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday accused some soldiers of conniving with opposition figures such as the Liberal Party and the communist movement amid alleged plots to oust him.
Speaking to reporters in Jolo, Sulu on Monday, Duterte said it “pains” him to learn that some soldiers were in cahoots with the opposition.
“Ang sakit ko dito, kayong mga Liberal, pati sa military nakikipag-ugnayan sila sa mga sundalong rebelde,” Duterte said.
(What's painful is, the Liberal Party is in cahoots with some rebel soldiers.)
“Hindi bale na magalit sila sa akin. Wala iyon, but to go in cahoots sa kalaban… If you are true to your country, don’t [be in] bed with the enemy.”
(Never mind that they get mad at me. That's nothing. But to be in cahoots with the enemies? If you are true to your country, don't be [in bed] with the enemy.)
Duterte mentioned this supposed connivance amid military reports that a coalition spearheaded by communist rebels is ironing out a "Red October" plot to oust him next month.
The President, however, seemed unfazed by the supposed plot, saying the military’s role is key in pulling it off. Nonetheless, he said he would be willing to let go of his post if state troops no longer find him capable of leading the country.
“Itong ‘plot plot plot’ na ito, ganito lang ang masasabi ko (these plots, all I can say is), nothing will succeed without the help of the Armed Forces,” Duterte told reporters.
“If the Armed Forces and the police think na ‘di ako bagay na maging presidente, sabihan mo na ako. Walang away away. Kung sabihin nila na dapat palitan ako, larga ako.”
(If the Armed Forces and the police think that I’m no longer suitable to be president, they should just tell me. No more fights. If they want me replaced, I will leave.)
Duterte said this even as he highlighted his efforts to upgrade the capabilities of the Philippine military, one of the weakest in Asia but has played a key role in toppling leaders in the past.
“Sa panahon ko nag-buying spree talaga ako. Wala kayong hiningi na hindi ko ibinigay,” he said.
(During my time, I went on a buying spree. You did not ask for something that I was not able to provide.)
“Nagawa ko lahat ng nagawa ko para maproteksiyonan niyo ang sarili niyo.”
(I did everything to help you protect yourselves.)
Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade, AFP deputy chief of staff for operations, claimed that opposition coalition Tindig Pilipinas almost got involved in the plan but backed out after realizing that communists were behind the move.
Parlade alleged that leftist leaders Rey Casambre and Satur Ocampo were leading the coalition.
The Liberal Party, whose leaders are part of Tindig Pilipinas, earlier denied any hand in alleged ouster plots against Duterte. The Magdalo group's Senator Trillanes and Rep. Gary Alejano have issued similar statements.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said efforts to oust the President would not succeed as the Duterte continues to enjoy the mandate of the people, as reflected in the latest survey showing majority support for his war on drugs.
The Communist Party of the Philippines, for its part, said the accusation is a "fictional plot which clearly aims to set the stage for applying increasingly draconian measures against the Filipino people."