[The Slingshot] Maisug rallies and POGOs: Are they connected?

Antonio J. Montalvan II

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[The Slingshot] Maisug rallies and POGOs: Are they connected?
It is a certainty, I was told, that the rallies and the planned coup are bankrolled by 'POGO operations providing funds to Duterte through the Michael Yang networks'

More than two decades of opinion writing has left this writer a trail of loyal readers, positive critics, negative critics (not excluding trolls), and secret informers. The last comprise those who have very reliable information but who wish to be self-ascribed as anonymous. The information they divulge can compromise their jobs and even their own safety, and one can see why.

In this age of fact checking and truth telling, “reliable information” does not promise well even in opinion journalism. Because of information accessibility today, readers have the agency to make their own verifications and judgments of the information that one writes. A good opinion writer must recognize that power inherent among readers.

Yet there are times when one is confronted with a one-in-a-million moment – a reliable information that was credibly gathered, but must be attributed anonymously. The informer, concerned with national events, can come from the intelligence-gathering community. As such, personal identity must be protected.

As the nation grapples with the shock of a Guo Hua Ping having been able to enter the country as a citizen of the People’s Republic of China, then acquired a Filipino birth certificate surreptitiously to qualify for an elective post, it becomes a reassuring feeling how those in the intelligence community are actually doing their job.

Let’s have it straight – the Maisug rallies of the Dutertes and POGOs have intimate connections, say these sources. Maisug – Visayan Cebuano for “brave, strong, fearless” – may not really amount to any valiant bravery if one knows its current anatomy. The man tasked to generate warm bodies all over the archipelago is said to be one of Rodrigo Duterte’s most loyal lieutenants – the ex-priest Leoncio Evasco Jr.

Evasco was Duterte’s Cabinet secretary from 2016 to 2018, then as his presidential adviser on streamlining government processes from 2020 to 2022. He was once the mayor of Maribojoc, Bohol from 2007 to 2016. His expertise is said to be organizing people’s organizations, a peculiarity he acquired as a cadre of the New People’s Army.

For the Maisug rallies, Evasco’s task is then predictable. His aim is to build up popular support – a kind of people power – for an eventual Sara Duterte takeover of government. The name itself is craftily curated – to present itself before the public as the exact opposite of the popular perception that the Marcos Jr. government is a weakling.

As one can readily see however, Evasco’s task of building a critical mass that should be the essential prerequisite of staging a coup d’etat against government is not materializing anywhere at this point.

In fact, the rallies have become dwindling rallies. It is not because there are “deliberate efforts to stop the rallies,” as Duterte has decried. It is because Evasco has not been able to draw and organize enough warm bodies to reach their desired tipping point. The Duterte camp is in a tight situation at this point because of this.

The presence of Baste Duterte in the rallies has also backfired with his discourses that are at best incoherent and senseless. The last time he spoke, he revealed that there is a rift between the Duterte children and the senator-handyman of their father. It is a worn-out Duterte approach – anybody who is not for us is against us.

Bong Go is up for reelection in 2025. If he continues to be identified with the Dutertes, he is certain of losing reelection. His quandary is how to steer away from the Dutertes, as it also is for Bato dela Rosa. Both face an impossibility. Both staked their political career on only one card – Duterte. Thank you to Baste Duterte for disclosing the family’s current vulnerabilities.

But building that critical mass is fundamental to the Duterte plan. It is the civilian component of the family’s evil desires to wield back power. Critical mass is supposed to push the next domino down the line – have the military to withdraw support from the Marcos Jr. government. Duterte has over-confidence. He once bragged “Pinapakain ko ng pera ang mga ‘yan” (I feed them – the soldiers – with money). With that kiss-and-tell revelation, the Philippine military has been shamed before the world as bribe takers.

Unfortunately for the family, the situation on the ground does not support their desired military coup. The information is that the morale is high within the Armed Forces because of the Marcos Jr. government’s pivot to the United States. The general Filipino public opinion for the reinvigoration with the US also supports that at a very high of 79%.

In contrast, Duterte’s pivot to Red China suffers infamously among Filipinos. Among 16 countries surveyed that the Philippines should align with, Red China came out as the least trusted. It will be a laborious uphill battle for the Dutertes to seize power using the Red Chinese game plan and wherewithal.

Filipinos will be in for a bigger shocker when they know how the Maisug rallies are funded. Despite the dwindling rallies, how can it afford to send Harry Roque to Hongkong, and Vic Rodriguez to New York last June? Rodriguez held a press conference and then a march rally outside the Philippine consulate on 5th Avenue. How much did all that cost? As for Harry Roque, did he travel alone or with a traveling companion?

Notwithstanding bankrolling the Maisug rallies designed to catch fire in major cities of the country, a coup d’etat is neither a walk in the park fiscally. Recruitment alone involves huge amounts of funds. Where are the Dutertes getting all the money for it?

The most common suspicion is that Red China is undertaking the funds for the planned misadventure. That is not far-fetched, and no one can blame public opinion trends. The information source, however, debunks that. It is a certainty, I was told, that the rallies and the planned coup are bankrolled by “POGO operations providing funds to Duterte through the Michael Yang networks.”

There was an assurance that as of the moment these pieces of information have been verified, albeit clandestinely acquired by the proper task communities. In time, however, they will be laid bare for the Filipino people to know. The failure itself of the Duterte plan will guarantee the veracity of this reliable information.

Otherwise, my credibility as an opinion journalist will be imperiled. I put myself on the line. I trust the authority of the source. – Rappler.com

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  1. ET

    Thank you to writer Antonio J. Montalvan II and his information source. He puts his credibility as an opinion journalist on the line just to bring this information to the people. Despite the fact that Former President Duterte is no longer in power, he still has the capability to physically, psychologically, and virtually attack his critics and enemies. This act of Mr. Montalvan should be greatly appreciated.

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