President Rodrigo Duterte said soldiers could join Senator Antonio Trillanes if they think the Senator can do better in running the country.
Duterte made the statement as he revealed that Trillanes and his Magdalo Group have connived with the communists and his political foes in a plot to oust him from power.
During last Tuesday’s televised one-on-one interview with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, Duterte said Trillanes’ Magdalo group, Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, and other opposition groups are in a “loose conspiracy” to overthrow his government.
“They have combined and we have the evidence and we have the conversation provided by a foreign country sympathetic to us,” Duterte said.
The President then dared the soldiers to join Trillanes if they think the senator, a former Navy officer known for his failed coup attempts against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, can do better in running the country.
“I urge you to go to Trillanes. If you want another president, fine,” Duterte said.
A bit worried about Duterte’s statement urging troopers to join an uprising, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the President’s statement should not be taken literally.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s challenge to the military to oust him was an expression of confidence that Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and other groups will not get support from the soldiers, Roque said on Wednesday.
“Ang konteksto talaga ng President is kung gusto nyo talagang mag-alsa, mag-alsa na kayo para matapos na. Ibig sabihin kampante ang Presidente na wala naman suporta sa hanay ng military para patalsikin sya (The proper context of the President is if you want to oust me, then oust me so that it will be over. It means the President is confident that there would be no support from the military to unseat him),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
Roque, however, said Duterte has clarified that he is not clinging to the position he won overwhelmingly in the 2016 elections.
“Chinallenge niya dahil sigurado naman siya na walang suporta. Pero sinasabi niya na ako’y hindi kapit tuko. Kung gusto nyo, gawin nyo (He challenged them because he’s sure there would be no support. But he’s also saying he is not clinging to his post. If they want to, then do it),” he said.
When asked to expound on Duterte’s intelligence report from a “sympathetic” foreign country, Roque said he has no idea if sharing information is a regular thing.
“What I do know is sharing intel is precisely intended to provide you information to avoid eventualities,” said the international law expert.
Roque clarified that the sharing of intelligence reports is “recognized as the function of diplomatic nations.”
“That’s the nature of diplomatic relations nowadays,” he said.
He said the Philippines has actually benefited from sharing information from the United States about terrorists.
Duterte has said the “sympathetic” nation, which he did not identify, has granted his request to declassify the conversation for it to be shown to everyone “maybe any day now.” (with PNA report)