Is there really a plot to oust President Duterte? If there is, where is it coming from and who are behind it?
Basing from the two models wherein the country ousted two of its presidents, the report, to be credible, could only come from two fronts. The tactical alliance of our uniformed services and the political opposition is materially supported in part by vested interest groups from the business community. But there is no credible and verifiable intelligence coming from these groups.
In the ouster of former President Joseph Estrada, left-leaning organizations participated by providing warm bodies to help the demonstrations going for days. The civilian plotters worked on the military and police to turn them around. They eventually succeeded in removing President Estrada.
In the current situation, it is hard to see where the threat is coming from. Other than the communists who are bent on ousting the President, the report of a plot is only a rumor according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, a staunch but level-headed supporter of President Duterte. It is possible that it is just a product of the insecurities of the President.
If it is, he should not be alarmed. His trust and approval ratings remain high, midway through his term. He among many Presidents have shown partiality to our uniformed services showering them with better pay and appointment to positions in government. In fact, one criticism of the President is that there are too many retired uniformed people occupying senior positions in government. He has indeed pampered the Police and Military to the envy of other government employees. In his recent trip to Israel and Jordan, he brought with him retiring military and police personnel as a parting gift which swelled the number of the delegation. I realize of course, that these are not iron-clad guarantees that some disgruntled elements from the police and military will not join other factions for a plot to oust the President but right now, there are no indications at all.
As they say, where there is smoke, there is fire and those of us even in the retired list are not hearing anything. If there is, we would have heard it in the grapevine because it is something that cannot be hidden for long. If it is the Liberal Party that is leading the plot, it is hard to see how it will succeed considering that its ranks have been decimated and whose members are now mostly with the majority party. Vice President Leni Robredo, the head of the party, is not exactly the type that can spearhead a plot to oust a President. The President himself already questioned the competence of his Vice President. If it is a project of the Liberal Party and the reds, this would automatically exclude the uniformed personnel because they could never go to bed with the Reds. Perhaps what is in the mind of the President that he cannot say in public is the unseen hand of a puppeteer directing or encouraging disgruntled elements in the country to oust him. If so, he is probably referring to the CIA which has occupied his mind ever since he took office. He seems to believe that the United States, represented by the CIA, has a plan to get him. During his trip to Israel, he alluded to some unseen forces who are spying on him and monitoring all his activities.
Since he is the repository of all intelligence reports, we do not know if he has some basis in believing so. Senator Antonio Trillanes has also been mentioned as one of the leaders of the ouster plot. But if we ask anybody in the police or military, it is doubtful if the good Senator can recruit a platoon much less a company of soldiers to follow him. Besides, his record of leading coups has not been very good. He was of course able to parlay his involvement in coup plots to become a senator of the realm but most of his comrades were not as successful as him. We have seen this in the two coup attempts that the good Senator has participated. The Oakwood and Peninsula Hotel capers ended in total failures and destroyed many careers.
It is true that Senator Trillanes is a big thorn on the side of the President but to make a martyr out of him will just be igniting a fire that has the potential of developing into a bigger problem. If indeed we have a democratic system of government, it is better to leave Senator Trillanes alone so that we can say to the world that there is dissent in this country. If dissent is stifled then our reputation as a country ruled by a strongman will cause our democratic credentials to deteriorate further.
The midterm elections is just around the corner and politicians from all parties are already lining up for the coming political battle which is one good reason why the story of an ouster plot is not credible. What the administration should perhaps be doing instead of being so fixated on the ouster plot is to try to do something about the economy which is floundering. The peso is depreciating, the inflation is at record levels, our international reserves have gone down not to mention the scarcity of rice which the government continue to describe as artificial. If all these are left unattended, these will be the spark that will ignite bigger problems for this government in the long run and not the report of an ouster plot.