Some officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) this week revealed what must be the silliest story of a supposed plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.
The supposed plot is called ‘Red October’ and it says that various anti-Duterte quarters are hell bent on deposing Mr. Duterte sometime next month. As can be expected, the usual suspects are the underground communist movement, the main political opposition party, and various cause oriented groups which have spoken out against the policies of the administration.
How ridiculous is this?
For one, Mr. Duterte stated with absolute certainty that he would be killed on Sept. 21, the anniversary of Ferdinand Marcos’s declaration of martial law. The day came and went without so much as a whiff of violence in the streets. All that happened was various groups holding rallies, mostly against martial rule but also against Mr. Duterte.
Oh, and there were some pro-Duterte rallies as well, but they were not very well attended.
Red October is a cute name, isn’t it? It calls to mind The Hunt for Red October which was both a novel by Tom Clancy and a movie starring the now retired Sean Connery co-starring Donald Trump impersonator Alec Baldwin. But a plot to remove the president? Third rate fiction, folks.
Former President Fidel Ramos used to talk about “misinformation” campaigns by the enemies of the state. This is exactly what the AFP’s Red October nonsense is. In this case of misinformation, however, it can be presumed that only a handful of Duterte loyalists are pushing the tall tale, possibly in hopes of scoring points and pleasing their master.
It is a sad fact that most if not all Philippine presidents since Marcos have sought to curry favor with the AFP, particularly the top brass. When they retire, a good number of AFP officers not only get secret golden parachutes, but are also offered high-paying jobs in the government.
There is no need to oust Mr. Duterte. Sooner or later he will exit the presidency, and his failing health may speed up the process.
This week, Mr. Duterte was confirmed to have taken a colonoscopy and an endoscopy but the Palace said he was “fine.” There was also an admission that he should stop drinking too much if he wants to live a little longer.
Interesting presentation of facts, isn’t it? Early in his presidency, Mr. Duterte admitted taking the dangerous drug fentanyl regularly, supposedly on doctor’s orders. Now we learn that he has been drinking more than he should. That’s a deadly combination in any language. Drinking and taking drugs is always a bad combination, and it probably explains why Mr. Duterte frequently threatens to resign. His mind is all messed up.
It also explains his paranoia over being removed from office before his term is up.
Those AFP officers pushing the insane line that there is a plot to oust the president are feeding his paranoia, and he is likely to believe the unbelievable lie.
Of course the high number of incompetent and/or corrupt members of the Duterte administration are deathly afraid that the lie might have a grain of truth. They cannot afford to lose their master at this early stage, when he still has some four odd years left in his term.
Expect the most desperate of them to urge Mr. Duterte to declare martial law and install himself as president for life. This way, they guarantee themselves all the time in the world to enjoy the perks of their employment and prepare for their retirement in style.
What they cannot do anything about is the true state of the health of a hard drinking, drug taking paranoid man in his 70s.
It should come as no surprise that what’s happening now is reminiscent of Ferdinand Marcos during the dying weeks and months of his corrupt presidency.
While the insipid Red October plot is nothing more than badly crafted gobbledygook, the mortality of Rodrigo Duterte cannot be questioned. He does not have decades in front of him. At best, he may have a few more years left.
He should spend what time he has left getting his act together and serving the people, instead of continuing to surround himself with men and women who only seek to massage his frail ego by telling him what a great leader he is and then feeding him tales of non-existent ouster plots.