Allow me to put in perspective my article “US ex-envoy plotting Duterte fall” (Tuesday, December 27), before a molehill morphs into a mountain, which could unfairly turn public sentiment against the US government for all the wrong reasons.
The alleged Goldberg blueprint to “undermine Duterte” is only in the realm of possibility, not a distinct certainty. My article clearly delineates the State Department from the alleged Goldberg paper. The information contained in the document that was provided to me was compelling and the source was highly placed and highly reliable and so I decided to write about it as a matter of public duty.
The alleged blueprint was written against the backdrop of a confluence of political events now obtaining, which led me to conclude that, indeed, some groups of individuals are entertaining the thought of ousting Duterte from the presidency.
There are pockets of low-level, loosely organized “plots” by people offended by the President’s foreign policy shift and his campaign against illegal drugs, among other burning issues of the day. In official meetings, and social gatherings, the narratives quickly turn into gripe sessions highlighting the shortcomings and sins of Duterte, and why he should be replaced, according to a friend who gets invited to some of those events.
A former high-ranking government official is busy making the rounds of his former supporters from the ranks of the police and the military, touching base with the various NGOs and the Church, and meeting with some disappointed administration officials who disagree with the President’s foreign policy shift, his campaign against illegal drugs and unpresidential ways. He is trying to feel the intensity of the quake beneath the surface.
However, up to this point, this so-called “pockets of resistance” are still searching for a leader who could harmonize them into a single, powerful, coherent group and lead the Duterte ouster move.
Some of the leading members of the so-called “pocket resistance” groups are looking at former President Fidel Valdez Ramos to lead them.
I agree that Ramos can be a big factor in any regime-change campaign. He is capable of helping (not leading) organize various groups and providing strategic and tactical gambits for the overthrow of governments. He can create political disturbances against Duterte.
He still has residual influence in the police and the military. He is also well connected with the US government, having studied at West Point. He has a line of communication with the key people in the State Department.
Ramos is highly respected by the Church, business, the academe and the NGOs. Through these years, he has managed to keep their trust and respect.
The question therefore: “Will former President Ramos lead the ‘Oust Duterte movement’?” The answer is a resounding “No.” I do not think he will. He is averse to risk. He is too “segurista.” He will not lead from the front; he will lead from behind and let others jump into the unknown and wait for the outcome. That’s President Ramos; who he was; who he will always be.
Ramos still wields a big stick. He is as dangerous as ever. He can be a big headache for Duterte. The President should not underestimate Ramos. Remember how Ramos easily helped mobilize his supporters to oust Estrada? And how he outwitted and outmaneuvered Enrile that eventually led to his sacking as Defense Secretary? Ramos eventually became Cory’s choice during her presidency and eventually got elected President in 1992 with the help of Cory Aquino.
In fairness to the US embassy and the State Department, I do not think that they are involved in a campaign to remove Duterte from office. Not that they are incapable of destabilizing or even ousting sitting presidents, because they can if they so choose. But not in this age and time, according to my American friend who works with the US Embassy. The US government no longer does those things, he said.
If there would be a coup, it would be hatched and launched not by the CIA but by some members of the disgruntled opposition, those whose interests were prejudiced by the Duterte presidency like the narco-politicians and their cohorts in the police and the military, the drug lords, and some interest groups. Also possibly among that group are Church leaders who can’t accept an uncouth provinciano who dares challenge the established order and spews out cuss words during breakfast as their President. Oh yes, I think drug money will pour into the campaign to finance a coup against Duterte.
I also think that if there is any coup, the Americans will not lift a finger to help Duterte. They will just stay on the sidelines and watch the political event unfold right before their eyes. However, if there is a stalemate – a bloody stalemate – and if public clamor against the President reaches critical mass, and if the outcome will be clearly prejudicial to the US national interests, they may interfere in a not so subtle fashion and tilt the balance in favor of the coup plotters.
The only elephant in the room is the CPP/NPA, and the throngs of Duterte diehards. I do not think that the CPP/NPA and the Duterte diehards will take any attempt to unseat Duterte sitting down. They will fight for their President tooth and nail. And unlike EDSA 1 and 2, there will be blood on the streets this time around. There could even be civil war pitting Filipinos against Filipinos.
Whew! What a country. More than 30 years after the EDSA revolution, nothing has changed. Corruption is still endemic. Elective and appointive government officials treat our national coffers as their own piggy bank.
Justice is for sale. Many fiscals, judges and some justices sell their decisions for a fee. Cases sleep the sleep of the dead in exchange for “parking fees.” The accused pay the fiscals and judges to sit on their losing cases hoping that the plaintiff would lose interest in pursuing them or drop them altogether.
Big business controls our economy. Our government officials and regulatory offices are held captive by big business. The consumers are choked and made poorer by the two giant telcos. Daily, they are robbed blind by these predators who charge astronomical fees for poor services and services not rendered.
Politicians, police and military are under the payroll of the drug lords. Some of them are themselves drug lords. Some of the policemen who kill suspected drug pushers/users are themselves protectors of the drug lords.
Truth to tell, I am beginning to doubt the wisdom of our brand of democracy. What is wrong with us? Our country has not moved forward. On the contrary, it retrogressed.
Even Vietnam, ravaged by a debilitating war for some 20 years, is about to overtake us economically. Visit Vietnam and weep. Marvel at the level of the discipline of its people and its modern public utilities. Contrast that to our disheveled conditions – in the streets, the pedestrians, the MRT, the LRT, LTO, etc.
By all means let us protest against Duterte for all his sins of commission and omission – perceived or otherwise. Let us question his decisions before the court for their constitutionality. Let us press him to deliver on his campaign promises. Let us force him to fire the incompetents and file cases of corruption against the shenanigans in his Cabinet and his administration.
His detractors may dislike Duterte and disagree with his brand of governance, but replacing him through extraconstitutional means is a sure way of turning the Philippines into a “Banana Republic.”