By Daniel Llanto
Confirming that authorities are taking a reported coup plot against President Duterte seriously, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced Monday that after due investigation it has so far not monitored any group hatching a plot to oust the President and destabilize the government.
“We see no group or interest group that might destabilize the government,” said Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office.
Malacanang revealed however that it now knows the persons behind the alleged oust-Duterte plot. “We know who they are, we are studying it. The warning is: just be careful in what (they) plan because it’s against the law,” said Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
Without naming anyone, Andanar added that “their plans are being hatched.”
“Whatever they’re planning, (they must) think twice because it is not lawful when you bring down a government,” Andanar warned. “And rest assured that we will protect our President.”
Andanar deflected further questions about the motive for the ouster and the names he said they are investigating.
Malacanang earlier confirmed that it has received reports of a coup plot against President Duterte. In a press briefing, Andanar said “credible sources in the United States” have provided them information.
In a radio interview Monday, Andanar said a Cabinet member who is currently in New York has heard of the plan to oust Duterte by January 2017. He said the Palace is seriously investigating this reported coup plot, but he refused to reveal any names as the names they have received still need confirmation.
Last week, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano insinuated that Sen. Leila De Lima’s probe on extra-judicial killings could possibly be part of the Liberal Party’s “Plan B” to unseat the president.
Duterte also hinted that the Liberal Party is planning to remove him from office.
Vice-president Leni Robredo, who belongs to the Liberal Party, said she was offended by Cayetano’s allegations. She reiterated the Liberal Party has no plan to bring down the President.
On the AFP’s effort to validate the reports, Colonel Arevalo said even retired military officers have been quiet.
He said active military officers, on the other hand, have become more professional and were unlikely to join any destabilization moves.
“We have learned from our past experiences and we don’t want to repeat what had happened in the past as adventurism or destabilization efforts often damaged our economy and the country,” Arevalo pointed out.
“Now that we have already picked up economically, our economic gains are better, we do not want the Armed Forces as a professional organization to take part in those activities that would disrupt these developments. As of now we are brokering peace with all quarters, it’s quite remote for the Armed Forces to be the one to cause destabilization,” he added.
Last week, Andanar said Malacañang already knew the identities of the people behind the plot to oust President Duterte. He warned the plotters to think twice before carrying out their plan.
But he expressed confidence the ouster plot would not progress further because Duterte obtained a high trust rating early in his presidency.
President Duterte allayed fears in the military over his efforts to kick-start peace talks with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic National Front (MILF) that are reportedly creating “rumblings” among the ranks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“I have heard that there are rumblings (because of our traditional) enemy. (Many were killed in the) military ‘(right)? And I told them that you know guys, I am a President, I am your commander-in-chief, that’s the title for war, unfortunately, I am not a wartime president,” Duterte said.
“My main job, my main task is really to seek peace for my land,” he added.
While he seeks peace with the Moro group, Duterte said he is not ready to talk peace with the extremist Abu Sayyaf.
The President rejected the recommendation of MNLF chairman Nur Misuari to include the Abu Sayyaf in the peace negotiations.