Duterte denies hand in destabilization

Diana Lhyd Suelto - The Philippine Star
Duterte denies hand in destabilization
Photo taken in July 2017 shows then president Rodrigo Duterte delivering his second State of the Nation Address. While Duterte admitted to talking to some retired generals, he denied plotting a coup d’etat with them.

• Partymates told: Go ahead, leave PDP-Laban

• GMA, Davao Rep. Ungab out as deputy speakers

MANILA, Philippines — Former president Rodrigo Duterte is baffled on how his name got dragged into supposed destabilization moves against the government.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. earlier disclosed destabilization moves against the Marcos administration by some retired generals, and there were insinuations that Duterte is behind the moves.

“I really do not know how I was dragged into this,” Duterte said at the Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa program aired early yesterday morning over Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).?

While Duterte admitted talking with some retired generals, he denied plotting destabilization or a coup.

“What I said during our meeting, among others, was as long as there is no serious issue of corruption (there would be no coup),” Duterte said in a mix of English and Tagalog.?“What would bring the government down… is if the people would know that their money is being spent on personal matters.”

Duterte said he might have been misquoted because he does not think there is a serious issue of corruption in government at this time.

He added that he does not see any political turmoil.

“I do not see any in the horizon, however short or long. I don’t think that there are current issues big enough to create another turmoil. The biggest issue that would cause it would be corruption in government that’s rampant, uncontrolled and unabated,” Duterte said.

The former president is also confident that the current administration has corruption under control and that the current President is not corrupt.

“Marcos, I would not say he is corrupt. However, I would not make any categorical statement on the others because I do not have the wherewithals to enter into a discussion about it,” Duterte said.

Moreover, on a scale of 1 to 10, Duterte gave Marcos a passing rate of 6.

“He is performing not exceedingly well, but enough to make the people comfortable,” he added.

The former president also urged Filipinos to support Marcos. “Let us give the President sufficient time to attain his objectives and if he has fallen short, for him to correct it,” Duterte said. “It is still too early, let us give our support to the government.”

GMA, Ungab ousted

Former president and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Davao City 3rd district Rep. Isidro Ungab were ousted as deputy speakers last night by the entire chamber.

During yesterday’s plenary session, Cagayan 1st District Rep. Ramon Nolasco Jr. moved to replace Arroyo as deputy speaker with Isabela 1st District Rep. Antonio Albano.

Nolasco also pushed for Lanao del Sur 2nd District Rep. Yasser Alonto Balidong as deputy speaker replacing Ungab.

Without objection from any House member, the changes were declared approved by Deputy Speaker and Antipolo City Rep. Roberto Puno.

This came after the House overwhelmingly adopted House Resolution No. 1414 to show their support for Speaker Martin Romualdez against the tirades of Duterte, who earlier tagged the chamber as a “rotten institution.”

Ungab yesterday said he accepts the decision of the House leadership to strip him of his position as deputy speaker.

In a statement, Ungab noted that he has been in Congress “long enough to understand the dynamics and interpersonal relations among its members.”

In May, Arroyo was also stripped of her “senior deputy speaker” title amid allegations that she was aiming for the speakership.

Following the demotion of Arroyo, who is a known political ally of the Duterte family, Sara Duterte resigned from the ruling Lakas-CMD party which supported her vice presidential campaign.

Go ahead, leave party

Duterte is unfazed by moves of his colleagues to leave their main Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) following moves by Senior Deputy Speaker Rep. Aurelio Gonzales to bolt out of the party after naming the former chief executive as a “threat” to the House.

“I respect his decision to go out of the party. And I would encourage those who are not in tune with us or hindi ninyo nagustuhan, you’re always welcome to go out,” Duterte said of Gonzales, who resigned from PDP-Laban during Monday’s congressional session, where lawmakers adopted House Resolution 1414 which calls on the House to “(uphold) the integrity and honor of the House of Representatives and (express) appreciation, solidarity and support” for House Speaker Martin Romualdez.”

“Even if I remain to be the only one in PDP, OK lang sa akin. No problem,” he said, adding that even if he was the only one left in PDP in the whole country, “OK lang ako. Wala akong dynamics diyan.” Gonzales resigned from PDP-Laban after pointing out that it was Duterte who made the remarks that prompted the House resolution to show the lower chamber’s support for Romualdez.

Duterte was noted to have criticized Congress after it rejected the request of his daughter vice President and education chief Sara Duterte for confidential funds in the 2024 General Appropriations Bill.

The former president has been cited for calling Congress ‘rotten,’ alleging that the lower House is the ‘most rotten branch of government’ and insinuating that Romualdez is behind the distribution of certain amounts to lawmakers without any audit done.

‘No opposition, no democracy’

For Duterte, if there is no opposition, there is no democracy at all.

“In a democracy, there must always be an opposition,” Duterte said over SMNI yesterday.

Duterte likewise told the people not to always assume that government is always correct. He said there are many mistakes committed along the way, whether with malice or without malice.

“Somebody has to point out these things so that the administration or the President will know about it,” he said.

And in governance, Duterte said, there must be somebody who’d be just checking and maybe try to figure out if that is the correct way.

The former president likewise said somebody must call the attention of the one running the show.

He has continued to push for a massive audit of all government offices, including the Lower House, where he said money is being distributed without the lawmakers having to account for them.

Coup plotters ‘crazy’

People who would support attempts to overthrow the Marcos administration are “crazy,” Sen. Ronald dela Rosa said amid reports that a group of retired military generals are trying to convince active military troops to join them.

“You know those who will support that are crazy,” the senator said.

He added that even if he is a retired general and served as chief of the Philippine National Police, personally, he was not aware of any destabilization efforts against President Marcos.

“It is difficult to launch a destab if you are in active (service), much more if already retired. What are your capabilities? All you have is words of wisdom. No more capability to destab. When you get old then look for trouble? You just retire peacefully,” he added.

He noted that retirees like him would only think of enjoying retirement, and if he is not a senator, he would be fishing in his hometown in Davao. — Edith Regalado, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Sheila Crisostomo

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