By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senators downplayed on Monday the reported plot to remove President Duterte from office.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the so-called “Oust Duterte” plot implicating journalists and some lawyers would not be successful now that it has been revealed to the public.
“Nah, the cat is out of the bag. It does not have wings, therefore won’t fly,” Sotto said in a text message.
He added that Duterte will not be easily overthrown since he “enjoys the trust of a big majority of our people.”
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said he was not aware of the said plan but called on the public to ignore it.
“[I] haven’t heard of any ouster plot. We should never entertain any such idea,” Pimentel said.
“I urge everybody to trust our democratic processes. In a democracy like ours, political leadership should be determined by the ballot,” he appealed.
A supposed “Oust Duterte” matrix was published Monday by the Manila Times, citing a “highly placed” official in the Office of the President as its source.
Later, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed that the reported ouster plot came from no less than President Duterte, saying he was planning to release the information on the same day.
According to the pro-government newspaper, journalists and lawyers from online news and fact-checking websites Vera Files, Rappler, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and the National Union of People’s Lawyers, have been publishing “anti-Duterte stories” as part of what it called “a coordinated media campaign to discredit the President.”
Their material allegedly came from a certain “Bikoy”, who, to recall, was featured in a viral online series tagging the President, his family, and allies in the illegal drug trade.
But the supposed ouster plot, according to the newspaper report, was not supported by the police, military, and the people.
Journalists and lawyers mentioned in the report have denied the supposed ouster plot, describing the matrix as “baseless,” “hilarious,” “rubbish,” and “completely ludicrous.”
Panelo maintained that the matrix should be trusted because it came from the President.
“Considering he is the President, he has so many sources, eh validated ‘yan. Galing kay Presidente, eh. Paniwalaan niyo,” Panelo said. (It came from the President himself so it is credible.)