SENATORS ON Wednesday weighed in on an alleged “Red October” destabilization plot involving the political opposition, with the minority leader dismissing the alleged plot as a “fantasy tale taken from a Tom Clancy thriller.”
But at the House of Representatives, its leader, citing her experience as Philippine president, gave President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s claim of such a plot the benefit of the doubt, saying he is “working from good information.”
In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said of Mr. Duterte’s ouster claim, “This opposition-communist ‘Red October’ destabilization plot is a discredited fantasy tale taken from a Tom Clancy thriller and being peddled by those who undermine our democracy to justify the declaration of a so-called revolutionary government.”
The Hunt for Red October is one of many espionage thrillers by best-selling author Tom Clancy. The book was adapted into a film in 1990 starring Hollywood stars Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin.
“This is an old familiar tune and it sounds like a broken record,” Mr. Drilon also said. “We in the Liberal Party strongly deny being part of any destabilization plot. We adhere to the rule of law and the supremacy of the 1987 Constitution.”
For his part, Senator and LP president Francis N. Pangilinan said those who give the President false intelligence reports must be fired.
“Billions are spent on intelligence funds for fabricated information….Instead of finding solutions to the worsening crisis in the price of rice and the economy, ways are being made to divert attention from the real problem of the country,” Mr. Pangilinan said in a statement.
In a media interview during his visit in a Sulu military camp last Monday, Mr. Duterte said “some soldiers” in the military are conniving plotting with the opposition to overthrow him.
“Diyan ako naghihinakit sa kanila, ‘yung mga sundalo na ‘yan. Hindi na bale magalit sila sa akin, wala ‘yon. But to go into cahoots with the kalaban… Ako isa lang ako eh,” Mr. Duterte said. (That’s my misgiving to them, those soldiers. Never mind if they’re angry at me, that’s nothing. But to go into cahoots with the enemy,…I’m just one.)
For his part, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson said, “There’s nothing unusual. While the President is very supportive and consistently at that, upon his assumption, with the all the goodwill he gave to the Armed Forces, he cannot have 100% or absolute support from all the soldiers and officers.”
Mr. Lacson, an alumnus of the Philippine Military Academy and former chief of the National Police, also said, “The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) should be conducting loyalty check by way of counter-intelligence and other built-in mechanisms available to them, even without being directed by the President.”
Senator Gregorio B. Honasan II, for his part, said, “The mandate of the AFP is stay in the center. Loyalty check is a direction….I am not in favor of exposing the strengths and weaknesses of our systems, our institutions to temporary flaws.”
“We should trust all our institutions….They should not do what we did in 1986,” Mr. Honasan also said, referring to the military breakaway in the People Power Revolution in which he took part.
But for her part, former Philippine president and present House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Wednesday said, “You know let me just say, again going from my experience as President, the President usually has access to information that not all of us have access to.”
“So if the President believes that there is a threat, he is working from good information. So we should believe whatever (he says),” the Speaker added.
Opposition groups including the Magdalo party identified with Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV have criticized Mr. Duterte’s claim of a destabilization plot against him.
Also on Wednesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday submitted its reply to the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 148, regarding Mr. Trillanes’s comment on the DoJ’s motion for the issuance of arrest warrant and hold departure order (HDO) against him.
The prosecution said the affidavit submitted by Col. Josefa C. Berbigal is “not accurate, if not downright false,” as she only mentioned that she received Mr. Trillanes’s application form and asked him to read a statement which contained a general admission of guilt.
“She did not categorically state having received a narration of fact by Trillanes of his involvement/participation in the Oakwood Mutiny on July 7, 2003 and the Peninsula Manila Hotel Incident on November 29, 2007, as required in the application form,” the reply read.
The DoJ also said that the affidavit of former defense undersecretary Honorio S. Azcueta — regarding the discussions by the Department of National Defense (DND) Ad Hoc Amnesty Committee on the amnesty applications — was belied by the Records Division of the DND as there were no minutes of the said deliberation.
“As it were and as it is, accused and his witnesses conveniently disregarded this requirement of submission of narration of facts of their involvement in the crimes of coup d’etat and rebellion,” the DoJ said.
For his part, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra told reporters that the government is not singling out Mr. Trillanes, adding that it is “natural” to start the review of the granting of amnesty with him, in connection with the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, 2006 Marine Standoff, and 2007 Manila Peninsula Siege.
“We cannot take away that risk that (his accomplices are) found to be deficient or noncompliant with the requirements for the grant of amnesty, then any other person who might have not complied may suffer the same situation of Senator Trillanes. But for now, we are dealing with his particular case so we’re focusing our attention on that (first),” Mr. Guevarra said.
“We’re not saying that the government is picking on him and being selective, it just so happened that he’s the most vocal and he’s the leader of the pack, so to speak. So it was just natural, if not logical, to start with him,” he added.
On Sept. 25, Judge Elmo M. Alameda of Makati RTC Branch 150 issued an arrest warrant against Mr. Trillanes in connection with his rebellion case from the 2007 Manila Peninsula Siege. The Senator, however, posted P200,000 bail the same day.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Aug. 31 issued Proclamation No. 572 voiding the amnesty granted to Mr. Trillanes in 2011. — Camille A. Aguinaldo, Vann Marlo M. Villegas, and Charmaine A. Tadalan