MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that there were threats to "assassinate" him and seize government power on September 21, the 46th anniversary of the declaration martial law by deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
In an interview dominated by his rants against his critics – particularly opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV – on Tuesday, September 11, Duterte said he had been told there were plans to have him killed.
"Sabi ng ano na, 'yan ang plano nila ngayon. Kung hindi na madala sa paputok-paputok, mag-assassinate," Duterte said in an interview with Chief Presidential Counsel Salvador Panelo which was aired live on state television.
(Someone said, that's their plan now. If they can't achieve their goal through explosions, they will assassinate.)
He even welcomed an assassination, saying it would be a quick death compared to dying due to a sickness.
"Kaligaya ko na lang mamatay sa kamay ninyo. At least hindi mamatay sa sakit. Ano ba naman 'yang bala? Hindi nga umabot ng isang segundo 'yung tiis mo diyan," he said. (I will be happy to die at your hands. At least I won't die because of sickness. What's a bullet? At least your pain won't last more than one second.)
He urged his perceived enemies to set their plans in motion early, and not wait until September 21.
"Umpisahan na ninyo ngayon na, huwag 'nyo na patagalin, 'yung plano 'nyong mag-sabotage, ganoon, sa May – September 21. Eh 'di gawain ninyo!" said the President. (Start it now, don't delay it, your plan to sabotage on September 21. Do it!)
He also spent much of the interview challenging the Armed Forces to stage a coup d'etat if they sided with Trillanes and if they saw Duterte as an unfit leader.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, leader of the opposition Liberal Party, denied the opposition was hatching any destabilization plot on September 21.
“Walang katotohanan 'yan,” he said on Tuesday. (There’s no truth to that.)
Pangilinan said that the administration’s claims of a plot were mere distraction tactics to shift attention from pressing problems like inflation and “missing” National Food Authority rice.
“Of course, we are the opposition. When we criticize, we are blamed. Criticizing is not destabilization,” he said in Filipino.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday, September 10, also dismissed rumors of a military-led destabilization plot, but claimed the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army is plotting to oust the Chief Executive.
On Wednesday, September 12, Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde said the PNP would "seriously verify" the President's allegations of assassination attempts planned against him on September 21.
"He has unlimited access to information not only from the PNP but also all other agencies and it's a serious threat," he said. – with a report from Sofia Tomacruz/Rappler.com
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Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.