Rodrigo Duterte’s rollicking ride to presidential favorite has triggered warnings of a coup should he win next week’s elections, with opponents branding him as a dictator in the making.
On Thursday, Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th filed charges of plunder and graft against Duterte at the Office of the Ombudsman.
Duterte is enjoying a double-digit lead over his rivals ahead of Monday’s presidential polls but he has created enemies with vows to embrace communist rebels and threats to abolish Congress or create a revolutionary government that could rewrite the Constitution.
“The moment he tries to declare a revolutionary government, that is also going to be the day he will be removed from office,” Trillanes, a former Navy officer famous for leading failed military uprisings in 2003 and 2007, said.
“This guy has no respect for democratic institutions.”
Trillanes said some in the military were “strongly averse” to Duterte’s long-standing ties with communists, and that the reaction “could be violent.”
Duterte has ruled the major southern city of Davao, which was one of the communist hotspots, as mayor for most of the past two decades, ending violence there by forging close ties with the rebels.
He has vowed to offer communist leaders posts in his government.
The mayor has also raised deep fears about the rule of law under his presidency, promising to kill tens of thousands of criminals and pardon himself for mass murder.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd, who is limited by the Constitution to a single term of six years, had spoken out repeatedly in recent weeks about his concerns that Duterte could turn into a dictator.
“Now that we are free, people who act like dictators are the ones in the lead,” Aquino said on Wednesday, as he warned the gains of democracy were in jeopardy.
Senator Grace Poe, tied in second place with administration candidate Manuel Roxas 2nd about 10 percentage points behind Duterte, on Thursday joined the growing chorus.
“His own words are a preview of what will happen to our country. If you visit a dictatorship like North Korea, everything looks well. But many are hungry and too terrified to complain,” Poe told reporters.
Ashley Acedillo, another coup plotter-turned-lawmaker, told Agence France-Presse that a “military intervention” was likely under a Duterte presidency.
“The Armed Forces will stand true to its constitutional duty to protect the people and the state,” he said.
The ex-coup plotter’s warnings are not bluster, according to Manila-based security analyst Rommel Banlaoi.
“We will face a Duterte government that is very unstable,” Banlaoi said.
A group of disgruntled military and police officers also warned of a possible communist takeover if Duterte wins.
Calling itself the Network of Officers to Defend the Republic (NODTR), the group came out also on Thursday to issue the warning.
“As men in uniform, we are duty-bound to defend our flag and the Constitution against forces foreign or local inimical to our democratic ideals and institutions,” an unidentified officer in digitized military uniform said in a 13-minute video uploaded on YouTube.
“Today we are issuing this urgent appeal to our countrymen, to fellow officers and brothers in arms in the AFP and Philippine National Police [PNP] to defend our democracy and the republic against an imminent takeover of our government by the communists,” he added.
The officer said Duterte presented a “clear and present danger.”
“We have decided to come out on pain of being accused of being engaging in partisan politics,” he added, noting that they had no option but to sound the alarm.
“By his word and actions past and present, Rodrigo Duterte is a certified hard core dyed-in-the-wool puppet of local as well as foreign communists,” the officer said in the video.
He claimed that Duterte’s campaign machinery is driven by high-ranking communist cadres such as Leoncio Evasco Jr., the mayor’s campaign manager, and Pete Lavina, his spokesman.
Duterte’s campaign, the officer said, is being closely supervised by Jorge Madlos alias “Ka Oris,” the highest ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Mindanao and a member of the party’s Central Committee.
Lavina allegedly specializes in urban political mass movement while Evasco is a special operator of the CPP.
In his complaint-affidavit, Trillanes questioned the hiring of 11,000 contractual workers in 2014 by Davao City.
He based his complaint on a report of the Commission on Audit (COA) in 2015 that the city lacks a clear policy on hiring.
According to the COA report, the city has “no written policy or manual on the hiring of employees particularly under contract or service and job offers.”
“Identification of persons to be hired for such nature rests directly upon the recommendation of the department heads and other officials of the city. These conditions cast doubt that entries in the daily time record of these employees…are manipulated, thus regularity and validity of the related expenditures could not be ascertained,” it said.
Trillanes said the 11,000 contractual employees, who cost the coffers of Davao City some P708 million, were hired in 2014.
The senator also accused the mayor of malversing public funds; violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Section 7 (D) of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Government Officials and Employees; and money laundering
He asked the Ombudsman to order the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to open or investigate the accounts of Duterte and his children and freeze these accounts.
Trillanes said Duterte should be suspended until the investigation is completed.
“Dito natin na makikita na yung hypocrisy ni Mayor Duterte na sinasabi niya na yung contractualization, yung’endo’ must stop, pero makikita niyo dito, 12 years yung mga contractuals niya, pero ang kasamaan nito ay hindi mga tunay na tao. Ito ay nasa payroll, binabayaran ng city government of Davao na napupunta sa bulsa ni Mayor Duterte na yun nga na-discover natin dun sa kanyang mga bank accounts [Now we can see Duterte’s hypocrisy. He said contractualization must stop, but for 12 years he had contractuals but what is worse is that these are not real people. They are in the payroll but the money was pocketed by Mayor Duterte],” Trillanes said in a news conference.
“So, ito ang smoking gun, nahuli na ang pangungurakot ni Mayor Duterte, sana maliwanagan na yung mga kababayan natin na kaya kayo nalinlang, noong una ay hindi corrupt pero yun pala siya ay corrupt [This is the smoking gun, we caught him plundering. We hope that the people will finally realize that they had been misled, at first he appeared not to be corrupt but he is in reality corrupt],” he added. “I have unmasked him for who he really is.”