PHILIPPINES President Rodrigo Duterte claims he has evidence of a plot to assassinate him in a sharp criticism against the country’s military which had refused to arrest one of his most vocal critics without a warrant.
On Tuesday, Duterte told a state-owned television network that he possessed a recording provided by a foreign country that a group of politicians from the opposition had banded together with Maoist rebels and former military officials to oust or kill him, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Someone said that’s their plan now. If they can’t achieve their goal through explosions, they will assassinate,” he said.
Earlier, the Duterte had called on the military to remove him in a coup if it saw him as unfit to be the president.
“If you want another president—fine,” he told soldiers.
Duterte said the group of plotters “were in constant communication”, adding the “connection will be shown, maybe any day now”.
His remarks come amid a tense political standoff with Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, an opposition politician and former military official who was granted amnesty after attempted coups during previous administrations.
Last week, Duterte withdrew the 2010 amnesty granted to Trillanes, who was a junior naval officer who led two unsuccessful coup attempts 15 years ago, and ordered his arrest, according to Reuters.
While Duterte is known for his devil-may-care attitude and foul-mouthed tirades against his critics, his remarks were a departure from his usual temperament.
Duterte also called on the military to “declassify” information about the alleged plot.
“We have the evidence and we have the conversation provided by a foreign country sympathetic to us,” Duterte told Salvador Panelo, presidential legal counsel, in an hour-long conversation.
Congressman Gary Alejano, Trillanes’ party-mate who also took part in the failed coups, denied any plot to ouster, saying the opposition was merely ensuring “checks and balances” to the government.
Alejano added Duterte was attempting to “divert the attention of the people from the present economic woes they themselves have failed to address”.