Philippine social media is abuzz with rumors, allegations and “leaks” pointing to an organized, well-funded campaign to ‘oust’ President Rodrigo Duterte and elevate VP Leni Robredo to the highest position in the land.
Perhaps this ‘campaign’ is best represented by a documented statement from FilAm millionaire Loida Nicolas-Lewis who, while denying she is involved in a plot to oust Duterte, openly called for the president’s resignation so that Robredo can take over.
While rumors persist that Robredo and her party allies may have been secretly meeting with Nicolas-Lewis during their trips to the U.S., the fact remains that this ‘Oust Duterte’ movement is largely orchestrated by a core group of U.S.-based Filipinos.
Politikal Pinoy believes that this foreign-based movement is unlikely to succeed. Here’s why:
- It would be naive for anyone to believe that Duterte would respond to a call for his resignation. The president’s passion and commitment to accomplish what he has promised during his campaign couldn’t be any clearer. Again and again, he has said that whatever it takes, he will eliminate illegal drugs and government corruption. He’s frankly aware that he may not finish his term for whatever reason, except — we think — forced resignation.
- The ‘Oust Duterte’ strategy has been largely focused on a media blitz aimed at discrediting the president and de-stabilizing his administration. The news media can publish the worst possible attack on Duterte, but it would not bother him or deter him from pursuing his goal for his countrymen. We know well enough that he has not held back from verbally confronting the world’s greatest countries, i.e., the United States, or the world’s great institutions, i.e., the United Nations. We have also seen during his press conferences and one-on-one media interviews that nothing stops him from directly confronting and challenging his interviewers or questioners. He is not easily intimidated by negative publicity.
- Any ouster movement can only succeed in an atmosphere where there is widespread dissatisfaction over the target of the ouster. When Duterte assumed office in July last year, he had a very high trust rating of 91%, according to a survey conducted by Pulse Asia. Six months into his presidency, he continues to enjoy a big majority approval and trust among Filipinos (83%), despite the controversial hero’s burial for former President Ferdinand E. Marcos and the resignation of Vice President Leni Robredo from the Cabinet.
Similarly, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted in December found that 81% of adult Filipinos said they have “much trust” in Duterte, giving the president a net satisfaction rating of +72% (Number of satisfied minus number of dissatisfied). In contrast, the SWS survey indicates that Robredo has a net rating of +37% (58% satisfied minus 21% dissatisfied). It reflected a 12-point decline from her previous rating.
- Only a “people power-type” of ouster can most likely succeed to get rid of Duterte. With his massive support from the Filipino population, it would take more than a rally or protest march of 15,000 people to accomplish the task. As for the U.S.-based ‘plotters,’ we have seen the sparse crowd that pickets the Philippine embassy and consulates in the U.S. And the big question is, how many of the U.S.-based Filipinos would really support an ‘Oust Duterte’ movement?
- People power, based on Philippines experience, usually involves the Catholic Church and the military. In recent years, the Philippine Catholic Church’s reputation (read: Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines) has not been all that favorable because of its misguided intervention in affairs of the state. As for the police and military, a mere examination of the president’s itinerary in the last six months shows a weekly visit/speaking engagement before police and the military — a boosting of morale and support of sorts. And a great strategy, I might say.
- And as for the Philippine Senate and Congress? Except for a handful of self-proclaimed ‘renegades’ like Leila De Lima, Antonio Trillanes, Kiko Pimentel, Bam Aquino, Risa Hontiveros, and Franklin Drilon, Duterte has the backing of a huge number of legislators.
- Lastly, let’s not undermine the intelligence of the Filipinos. They know that Robredo does not possess the qualifications to be president. She is not ready. The only way she can run the country is through her surrogates — perhaps the same people who are trying to fuel the ‘Oust Duterte’ campaign.
- UPDATE: Let’s give Robredo the benefit of the doubt that she was sincere in a recent statement that an “Oust Duterte” movement is not good for the Philippines. So what are the “plotters” going to do next?