‘Oust Duterte’ Plot, Denied!

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - Front Page -

A FILIPINO-AMERICAN billionaire Loida Nicolas Lewis, who called on President Rodrigo Duterte to resign, has strongly denied that she was plotting to oust the Philippine leader.

Lewis, chairperson of the US Pinoys for Good Governance, has been linked by produterte groups to a supposed plot to remove the President from office after he failed on his promise to eradicate the drug menace within 6 months from assuming office.

Duterte publicly said he would resign if his deadly “war on drugs” failed.

Lewis’ name was dragged into the alleged plot after leaks from the public space Global Filipino Diaspora Council talked about unseating Duterte for many reasons and among them the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug users in the Philippines and the controversial Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani which was being opposed by victims of his tyrannical rule and martial law.

In an earlier statement released in November, Lewis said: “The allegations that I am supporting a plot to unseat President Duterte are a complete fabrication and totally false. They are simply not true and I deny them in the strongest possible terms. I am concerned that the President is being given misinformation designed to divide the country and advance the interests of a certain political group while casting Filipino Americans in an unfavorable light.”

Lewis said she even wrote a letter to incoming U.S. ambassador (Sung Kim) asking the U.S. government to provide help for the President’s antidrug campaign through programs for the rehabilitation of drug addicts. Let me quote from that letter: “As a president dealing with 4 million Filipinos under the grips of drugs and poverty, President Duterte wants to rid the country of that plague that curse. With all due respect, may I suggest that you offer him assistance in the rehabilitation of the 800,000 drug addicts and drug dealers who have surrendered and are now in prison all over the country?”

She said she met Duterte for the first time in June when the U.S. Philippines Society - of which Lewis is a member - and had a meeting with him in Davao.

“We all came away with a feeling that this President has a genuine intention to lead the Filipino people out of poverty, criminality and corruption. Along with others, I do have concerns about extra judicial killings but these are questions that have been raised and debated publicly, and have no connection at all to any plots or conspiracies being imagined by those who are spreading lies and hatred between fellow Filipinos,” Lewis said.

And on her latest statement dated January 9, Lewis – a native of Sorsogon – said: “First, no plot to oust Duterte. The Duterte Resign Movement is based on President Duterte’s own words that he would resign if drugs are still rampant six months after his inauguration.”

“2nd. Global Filipino Diaspora Council (GFDC) is a public space. Our group is fighting for overseas Filipinos’ rights Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea since its founding. Thanks to Atty. Rodel Rodis and many others, we were able to convince former President Pnoy’s (President Benigno Aquino) admin to allow 200,000 plus overseas Filipinos to exercise their right to vote, because it is a basic human right. Definitely, VP (Vice President) Leni (Robredo) has never been a member of the GFDC, as she is not living or working overseas.”

“3RD. Dissent is not equivalent to a plot or conspiracy. In a democracy, opinions of varying shades, either praise or criticism, are a staple ingredient or a vibrant democracy. Since when has criticism become an element of sedition? My principle and views, based on my love for our people and our country, are well known since my student days at the University of the Philippines.”

She added: “It is unfortunate that some members of President Duterte’s cabinet have a low threshold of tolerance for dissent and criticism. It is (Senator Ferdinand) Bongbong Marcos who is creating a political instability, and causing destabilization with his refusal to accept defeat from Vice President Leni Robredo.”

Duterte, for his part, said he will not give up the presidency.

(Photo by Michael Rey Baniquet)

President Rodrigo Duterte

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