Is There a Plot to Unseat the Philippine President?

Malacañang Palace in Manila is the official residence of the President of the Philippines. Photo by: Patrick Roque.

MANILA, Philippines (ViaNews) – “Red October.” This is the purported plan of several political groups, allegedly led by the Communist Party of the Philippines, as they conspire to unseat Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte. For weeks, the Philippine military has been on an all-out mode to convince the public that it truly exists, citing intelligence reports that are beyond public scrutiny.

But the so-called conspiracy has become more and more dubious despite all attempts of the Philippine military to thicken the plot.

“Concocting lies and fantastic conspiracy theories is natural for insecure and fascist governments,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

A destabilization plot, later dubbed by the Philippine military as “Red October,” was first floated during President Duterte’s televised tête-à-tête with his legal adviser, where he cited unholy alliances between various political groups supposedly seeking his ouster.

Malacañang Palace in Manila is the official residence of the President of the Philippines. Photo by: Patrick Roque.
Malacañang Palace in Manila is the official residence of the President of the Philippines. Photo by: Patrick Roque.

This was aired at the height of the people’s growing dissatisfaction on the increasing prices of basic goods and services as the inflation rate rose to a staggering 6.9 percent, the highest in almost a decade.

Meanwhile, victims of drug-related killings have also filed a case before the International Criminal Court over the thousands who have fallen victims to his infamous war against drugs. President Duterte, too, has been found guilty of violating the political and socio-economic rights of the Filipino people before the International People’s Tribunal held in Brussels, Belgium.

Related story: Philippines: The Poor Fights Back vs. Drug-related Killings Before ICC

As a result, the Red October has been immediately dismissed by government critics as a mere distraction to derail the public from pressing issues hounding the Philippine government. Still, the military and other Philippine government agencies are firm over the whole “Red October” plot.

Ranking military officials claimed in news reports that the intelligence report came from recovered laptops from an insurgency raid. They also recently accused at least 18 universities of serving as breeding ground for revolutionary fighters, without a shred of verifiable evidence.

As such, progressive groups in the Philippines have assailed the “Red October” plot not just for derailing the public attention but also for using the supposed plot to make their members legitimate targets of military operation through the widespread red-tagging.

This may be potentially, if not totally, dangerous for many activists. During the days of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, activists who were branded as members of so-called “front” organizations of the communist movement became military targets under one of the bloodiest counterinsurgency programs in recent history, resulting to thousands of killed and hundreds of forcibly disappeared.

In a statement, human rights group Karapatan assailed the destabilization plot as “an underhanded move to justify further repression and rights violations against organizations and personalities considered as critics of the Duterte government.”

Apart from students, churches and even their very own government agencies have also been red-tagged and infiltrated by communists, respectively, by the Philippine military.

Is there a plot to unseat the Duterte administration? The better question is, are there legitimate and valid reasons to do so?

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