MANILA – Above all, it's loyalty to the country.
President Rodrigo Duterte had this to say Wednesday amid talk of a plot to oust him next month, dissuading soldiers and law enforcers against mounting a coup d'etat against him.
"Loyalty should begin and end with the Republic of the Philippines," Duterte said in a speech before Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) personnel in Calamba City.
Duterte reiterated that those in the armed services should confront him if they feel he was no longer fit for the job, instead of taking part in ouster moves.
"...[D]o not nurture personal loyalty to me. I don’t need it. I was elected by the people, you have your mandate. If you think I do not deserve to be there, just tell me, Id’ be happy to oblige. Pagod na rin ako (I am also tired)," Duterte said, again hinting at his willingness to step down.
"And if you think na matanda na talaga ako at di na ako makapagtrabaho (that I am already old and I cannot work anymore) and I am no longer [being] able to articulate what I should be doing in government, just tell me," said the 73-year-old President.
He then added: "Do not go into such stupid things as coup d’etat, coup d’etat. You’re wasting your time."
Military officials earlier warned that a "broad" coalition of communist rebels and the President's critics were conspiring to remove him from office in a plot called "Red October."
Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former police chief, said the military should check on its men through counterintelligence.
Duterte earlier dared the military to side with opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV if they ever lose confidence in him as a leader, and mount a mutiny.
The President recently voided Trillanes' amnesty for his role in uprisings in 2003 and 2007, reviving charges against him pending at the Makati Regional Trial Court. The lawmaker was arrested Tuesday for rebellion charges filed against him for the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege and immediately posted bail.
"Kung kayo may nakita na ginawa si Trillanes para sa inyo, go to them. Stage a mutiny or revolution or whatever," he said in a one-on-one interview with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on September 11.
Malacañang said this was an expression of confidence of the Commander-in-Chief in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).