What Red October? Robredo camp, Tindig Pilipinas groups deny ouster plot

MANILA, Phlippines – Vice President Leni Robredo’s camp and leaders of groups under the Tindig Pilipinas coalition denied forging an alliance with the communists to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.  

“There is no need to cut ties with communists because the political opposition has no ties with them in the first place,” said Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano on Monday, September 24.  

Lawyer Barry Gutierrez, Robredo’s spokesperson who is also a member of the Akbayan party, called the allegations against the opposition “unfounded claims [that] are plainly irresponsible.” 

Their denial comes after the military said over the weekend that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is allegedly planning a “Red October” ouster plot against the President.  

The alleged plan to unseat Duterte is supposed to be orchestrated by CPP founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison. 

On Monday, the military mentioned another ouster plot hatched by the rebels called "Oplan Talsik."

It was Duterte himself who first claimed that the once-ruling Liberal Party (LP), the communists, and embattled senator Antonio Trillanes IV are planning to oust him by October. The opposition groups already denied this.

What did the military say? According to Brigadier General Antonio Parlade, assistant deputy chief of staff for operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, there was a plot to oust Duterte last Friday, September 21, when various opposition groups staged protests in key cities nationwide for the 46th anniversary of the Martial Law declaration.

According to a Philippine Star report, Parlade told an ANC interview that the September 21 ouster plan supposedly failed because Tindig Pilipinas backed out of its plan to join forces with communist groups after finding out that CPP leaders were behind the ouster plot. 

The military officer further claimed that the LP, of which Robredo is chairperson, and the Trillanes-led Magdalo wanted to "align" themselves with the plot to oust Duterte.

Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin said Parlade is “confusing legitimate dissent and extra-constitutional moves, if any, to be the same." 

“Apples can’t be oranges. Or it may be a signal to the Duterte administration from the military not to entertain any overtures of peace from the CPP,” said Villarin. 

But why not join the rally in Luneta? The biggest protest action on September 21 was staged at Luneta Park, dubbed as the “United People’s Action.” 

The Luneta Park protest was attended by groups like Bayan, Anakbayan, Kabataan, and labor groups like Kilusang Mayo Uno, Sentro, and Partido Manggagawa. Students from various universities also marched towards Luneta. 

But not Robredo, who had accepted the call to lead and unite the opposition, nor Tindig Pilipinas.

There were, however, several Tindig Pilipinas members who went to Luneta on their own, like ousted Supreme Court chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno

Why weren’t they there?  

According to Villarin, the political opposition led by Robredo is “wary of the extreme Left’s continuing engagement with Duterte since day one of his administration.”

“The Coalition for Justice is largely an ecumenical group supporting former CJ Sereno. Tindig Pilipinas is a civil society-led opposition alliance. On the other hand, the CPP-NPA (National People’s Army)-NDF (National Democratic Front) is again having backdoor talks with Duterte to resume the peace process which the military strongly opposes,” said Villarin.

The lawmaker said the military is possibly trying to prevent Duterte from pursuing peace talks with the Left again.

“By lumping them together, the military is preempting Duterte from continuing his on-off dalliance with the communists. It also puts the political opposition on the defensive by denying what it never had — an alliance with the CPP,” said Villarin. 

Alejano also explained that Tindig Pilipinas as an organization already agreed to attend the Mass for Peace held at the De La Salle University (DLSU) as well as gather support to help the victims of Typhoon Ompong.

Gutierrrez said Robredo had already committed to attending the Mass in DLSU as well as the screening of the film “Liway” at the University of the Philippines.

“Both events had already been scheduled previously… The VP was never scheduled to go to Luneta due to the other events she was already committed to attending, so there was nothing to cancel,” said Gutierrez.

As for Akbayan, Villarin explained his party simply decided to hold their nationwide mobilizations on September 20, the eve of the Martial Law anniversary. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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