Communications Secretary Martin Andanar answers questions
during an impromptu press conference (file photo)
It all started with a
radio interview on Manila radio station DZRH on September 19, 2016 when
Pres. Duterte’s Communications Secretary Martin Andanar announced the
breaking news that Filipino Americans in New York were planning to stage
a coup against Pres. Duterte in January of 2017.
This is how Andanar
said he learned the news: “I was just talking to somebody in New York
now who is also a member of the Cabinet – I won’t mention his name. But
he also heard of the Fil-Ams in New York who are planning. They are
hatching a plan to oust the President by January 2017. There is this
kind of report. "
Andanar added that he
even asked this unnamed official if he has evidence to prove it or if
this is another hearsay. “It’s really about the evidence that you have,
isn’t it? (If there is) you let me know (because) it is the concern for
the government and it should be a concern for the nation because it’s a
destabilization talk,” Andanar said he told the official.
Although Andanar never
identified the source of his news, there were only two cabinet officials
who were in New York in that time period - Department of Foreign Affairs
Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr. and Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella.
Two days after
Andanar's news, Secretary Yasay addressed the issue when he spoke at a
Town Hall meeting with the Filipino-American community at the Philippine
Consulate in New York. “I do not know whether those reports are true, I
deny having said those things and I am sure Sec. Ernie Abella would not
say those things,” he said.
So it appears the
question is not whether Yasay or Abella can provide any evidence of the
plot to Andanar but whether Andanar has any evidence that “a member of
the cabinet” actually provided him with information about such a plot.
Or did Andanar just make it up as a joke?
Wikipedia, Andanar is “a former Filipino television news anchor, radio
commentator, podcaster, audio blogger, voice-over artist and comedian.”
Unless reading a
teleprompter as a former television anchor qualifies one as a
journalist, it does not appear that Andanar has the credentials to even
understand what hearsay means.
But the absence of any
evidence of this Fil-Am "plot” did not stop Andanar from further
exploiting the issue in his subsequent press conferences.
Two days after the
DZRH radio interview, Andanar announced from Malacanang Palace that the
administration has already identified the people behind the supposed
plot of Filipino Americans.
“We have names. We
know who you are,” he said. “We are aware of this and we have names,
I’ve received names but I’m not going to mention it because, you know, I
was also a journalist and we might be charged with libel,” Andanar said
in a press briefing.
The difference between
Duterte’s Secretary of Communications Martin Andanar and Hitler’s
Minister of Propaganda Josef Goebbels is that the latter never claimed
to be a “former journalist.” Goebbels famously said “It is the absolute
right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion.”
The Big Lie
It was Goebbels’ boss
who famously said: “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently
enough, it will be believed.”
Andanar was undeterred
by Yasay’s denial and persisted in his quest. “We have to confirm, we
have to vet, but whatever they’re planning, just think twice because it
is not lawful when you bring down a government. And rest assured that we
will protect our president,” he said.
Andanar has used
unconfirmed hearsay reports about an imagined conspiracy to launch a
witch hunt against Filipino Americans who are critical of the Duterte
administration. He wants them to “think twice” about participating in
any anti-Duterte demonstrations. It was intended to intimidate Duterte's
critics in the U.S.
Perhaps Andanar did
not imagine everything. I can confirm that there really were
conversations by Filipino Americans in New York and in other parts of
the U.S. about asking Pres. Duterte to resign. I know I am on Andanar's
black list because I participated in that teleconference.
On September 8, 2016,
Balitang America aired an interview with "Filipino American human rights
lawyer" Ted Laguatan where he criticized Pres. Duterte for damaging the
good relations of the Philippines with the US. “I’m sorry for him that
he cannot control his mouth and his brain because it gives us a bad
image as a nation. It is unfitting because he is seen speaking like that
against the world, against the leader of the United States, against
Filipino interest. There’s only one solution. He should resign,” he
The following week, on
September 13, the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG) led by Loida
Nicolas-Lewis from New York held a national teleconference to discuss
Laguatan’s call for Duterte to resign.
While there was
support for the sentiment, there was also concern that it was not yet
time for it and such a call would only be used by Duterte supporters to
attack his critics.
There was also a
suggestion for US Pinoys to write a letter to Pres. Duterte to ask him
to tone down his language and his attacks on the US, an ally supporting
the Philippines claim to the West Philippine Sea.
In the end, US Pinoys
for Good Governance voted unanimously to support a resolution to buy a
jet ski and donate it to Pres. Duterte to help him fulfil his campaign
pledge to jet ski to the Scarborough Shoal to plant a Philippine flag on
it in defiance of China’s efforts to transform it to an island fortress.
So it is quite
possible that someone heard about this US Pinoys' teleconference and
about discussions calling for Duterte to resign and word of it reached
this unnamed cabinet official in New York who may have passed it on to
Andanar. As anyone familiar with the perils of how a “broken telephone”
works, the retelling of the conversion misstated the original call for
Duterte to resign, to a call to impeach him, all the way down to a call
to supporting a coup to oust him.
Who Said January 1,
The remaining mystery
is the date. According to Andanar, the Fil Am conspirators are planning
to stage their coup in January of 2017. As one who participated in that
September 13 teleconference, I can confirm that no one suggested a
specific date for Pres. Duterte to resign.
But I think I know the
source of the date Andanar is referring to.
We should remember
that in his campaign speeches, candidate Duterte repeatedly promised to
resign if he is not able to solve the problems of crime and drugs in his
first six months in office. Duterte said on January 20, 2016: “I will
not ask for a (full) term…I ask for three to six months and I will
finish them,” said Duterte, referring to criminals, drug lords, and
corrupt public officials, during a symposium in Manila at the De La
On the website of the
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on September 19, 2016 is
a message from Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo about Duterte’s
promise: “In the campaign, he categorically said that the drug problem
would be solved in six months or he would step down. But of course he is
not a man of one word. His words cannot be trusted and he gives a lot of
excuses. He made the people believe.”
Duterte assumed the
presidency on June 30, 2016. Duterte’s self-imposed six month term will
expire on December 30, 2016. So on January 1, 2017, Duterte will resign.
This is not according to the Fil-Am conspirators, as Andanar alleges.
This is according to Pres. Duterte himself.
Mystery solved. Published
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