Destabilization plot? Duterte says it’s only ‘publicity’

Pia Ranada
Destabilization plot? Duterte says it’s only ‘publicity’


The President himself denies there is a destabilization plot against him, saying criticism comes with the job of leading a democracy

BANGKOK, Thailand – Despite his own appointees peddling an alleged destabilization plot, President Rodrigo Duterte denies such a plot exists, saying criticism is part of a democracy.

That’s why he has no plans of taking to court those who might be behind the “plot.”

“In the matter of going after them, it has not reached that level of violence, destabilization. It’s more of publicity,” he said during an interview with media on Sunday, March 19, in Myanmar.

He took the position of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in saying the “peaceful” expressions of dissent must not be equated to a destabilization plot.

“The talk about destabilization, I think is a bit too – well, it is just an exponential word actually, it has no limit. But actually, you have to have the kind of situation where there is already violence committed and imposed on the population, whether they are with you or against you,” he said.

Criticism, even of him, said Duterte, is part of living in a democracy.

“For as long as, it is really a peaceful exercise of the freedom of speech and freedom of the press, there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s guaranteed under the Constitution,” said the President.

Lorenzana, in a security forum last March 9, said: “Criticism [of] the President is not destabilization. We must accept that there will be criticism on what we do, whether we do right or good.”

Though he claims to not believe there is a destabilization plot, that same night, Duterte said Vice President Leni Robredo seems “in a hurry” to replace him.

Several of Duterte’s allies and appointees have used the term “destabilization plot” to describe moves opposing the Duterte administration and its priorities.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, for instance, is among the officials most vocal about an alleged destabilization plot. 

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella even called the impeachment complaint recently filed against Duterte part of an “orchestrated effort of a well-funded destabilization campaign.” –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at