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Solon dares Obama to deny ouster plot

The White House should declare a categorical denial of any involvement by the United States in an alleged plot to oust President Duterte, an administration congressman said yesterday.

Senior administration Rep. Winston Castelo issued the challenge to outgoing US President Barack Obama and his replacement, President-elect Donald Trump, as the unconfirmed destabilization plot allegedly hatched by former US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg and reported by a local newspaper drew varied reactions from two opposition congressmen.

Akbayan party-list Rep. Tomas Villarin dismissed the report as mere paranoia on the part of the Duterte government that is being haunted “with the souls of more than 6,000 killed by its war against the poor/drugs.”

Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque said the veracity of the report has enough bases if the US government’s role in undermining sovereign countries like the Philippines is to be considered.

“Reports that former US Ambassador to Manila Philip Goldberg has drafted plans for the ouster of President Duterte from power, while not altogether surprising, should not be readily dismissed,” said Roque.

Castelo, chairman of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, said that while he respects the denial issued by US Embassy in Manila, a statement from White House is preferable.

Also a member of the House Committee on Public Order and Security, Castelo said that if Goldberg had indeed made such recommendation, the commander-in-chief of the US military should reveal what action it has taken on the matter.

“We urge Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay to formally send a note verbale to the US Embassy in Manila and ask for an explanation – including how such sensitive document, if it does exist, could have been leaked and if the leak is not, in fact, meant to be part of the destabilization plot,” said Castelo.

However, the Quezon City lawmaker also aired the possibility that the report may have been intentionally leaked to the media by groups interested at destroying the diplomatic ties between the US and the Philippines, which has been at its lowest ebb due to Duterte’s anti-American statements.

Equally concerned about the alleged Goldberg destabilization plot against the Duterte government, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez called for a House inquiry into the report, saying that all those involved and mentioned in the plot should be invited to shed light into the issue.

Castelo said the publisher of the newspaper should be summoned to the congressional inquiry, although it can be surmised that the newspaper executive may not be in a position to “shed any light other than what he has already written.”

Villarin, who belongs to the so-called “yellow bloc” in the House, said the Duterte administration has been “imploding with its policies and pronouncements not because of external threats.”

“But more than coups Filipinos are more worried about the spike of EJKs (extrajudicial killings) and the downward trend of our economy,” said Villarin.

The opposition lawmaker added: “With unemployment, rising prices of goods, and lack of livelihoods, it is high time we focus on the war against poverty.”

Roque noted that while Americans portray themselves as “missionaries of democracy,” their government has been accused of pursuing foreign policy initiatives “that betray their anti-democratic, if exceptionalistic designs.”

“Contemporary world history has shown that the US is not beneath undermining the political integrity of foreign governments perceived to be unfriendly to American interest,” he said, citing America’s alleged involvement in the civil strife in Libya, Iraq, and Syria.

“Thus, we condemn in the strongest terms and vigorously oppose any attempt by any foreign power to unseat a democratically elected President of our country,” Roque said. (Ben R. Rosario)

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