HOUSE Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday called for a congressional investigation into the “blueprint” allegedly drawn up by former US ambassador Philip Goldberg to undermine and oust President Rodrigo Duterte, calling the supposed plot “anathema” to democracy and a “subversion” of the people’s will.
Alvarez said Congress could invite members of the intelligence community and US Embassy staff to a probe in
January to dig deeper into the supposed plot, first reported by The Manila Times Chairman Emeritus Dr. Dante A. Ang in an exclusive story on Tuesday.
“Of course we cannot force them (US Embassy staff) but we will extend the invitation,” the speaker said.
Alvarez, as well as Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., said they were not surprised that the US would be involved in such a plot.
“I was not surprised. The United States always meddles…if it has no hold over a country’s president,” Alvarez said in Filipino.
Yasay told radio station dzRH he had been hearing of “serious threats” against Duterte from overseas, and that he wouldn’t put such activity past Goldberg, who was expelled by Bolivia in 2008 for allegedly fomenting civil unrest against the government of Evo Morales.
“It is not new for Ambassador Goldberg to be accused of such a plot,” Yasay said. “He should be a very important and influential person,” he said.
Yasay said The Manila Times report involved “a serious matter that we have to dig deeper into.”
“I would not take this threat lightly,” Yasay said.
Goldberg, according to The Manila Times story, said “political actors (the opposition) would need all the political weapons in their arsenal to replace the Duterte administration and replace it with something more to the opposition’s liking.”
Goldberg allegedly urged the US government to employ a combination of “socio-economic-political-diplomatic moves against Duterte to bring him to his knees and eventually remove him from office.”
Duterte and Goldberg had a rift before the latter ended his stint in Manila in October. Duterte badmouthed Goldberg for the envoy’s criticism of his joke during the election campaign about the 1989 rape of an Australian missionary.
In a statement on Tuesday, Alvarez said of the ouster plot: “If true, this has serious consequences not only on our country’s political stability but also on the economic and social fabric of our nation. It would also have grave repercussions on our relationship with the United States.”
“In view of this serious allegation I am calling for a congressional investigation to find out if there is basis to this reported ouster plot against President Rodrigo Duterte,” he said.
The plan, if carried out, would constitute a violation of Philippine sovereignty and would be tantamount to subversion of the Filipino voters’ will, Alvarez said.
“That is anathema to the gospel of democracy the US government, especially under the administration of President Obama, has been preaching to the world,” he said.
Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, a Duterte ally, said there might be difficulty in inviting witnesses.
“Such probe might face a blank wall since we cannot invite US embassy officials and/or operatives as witnesses just like Jaybee Sebastian, or in the event that they snubbed us, we cannot arrest them just like what Congress did to [Ronnie] Dayan,” Batocabe told The Manila Times.
Alvarez cited a United Nations declaration adopted in 1965 that provides that no state has the right to intervene in the affairs of another.
The US, he noted, is a signatory to the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, which upheld the principle of non-intervention.
Yasay urged critics to allow Duterte to finish his six-year term.
“He was voted by our country, by an overwhelming majority. Let’s give our President a chance,” he said.
Alvarez pointed out that Duterte had no plans to cling to power.
“Removing him from office won’t be such a big thing for President Duterte. But I’m sure he would not stand idly when he sees our people suffering if our economy crumbles as a result of such US machinations,” Alvarez said.