CPP slams Duterte ouster claim as 'fabrication'

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  • CPP, NDFP consultant: No basis for claim of ouster movement
  • NDFP supports Duterte ouster
  • CPP, NDFP consultant: No alliance between Church and left
  • NDFP likely to join, but not launch, an ouster movement
  • Consultant: Resistance to changing economic, foreign policies hampers peace talks

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 4) — There's no plot to overthrow President Rodrigo Duterte -- even if the left wants to.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said allegations of an ouster move were "a complete fabrication" and "propaganda blitzkrieg."

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday that the CPP launched a movement in May 2017 to oust Duterte that will supposedly culminate in October.

The CPP even floated the idea that the administration had other plans, like "martial law or a general crackdown" by that month.

Similarly, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panel consultant Rey Casambre said that he could not find evidence among pronouncements from the left that corroborated Lorenzana's claim.

"I am not aware of it," Casambre told CNN Philippines' The Source. "I searched the websites... I did not find any document supporting that statement or allegation."

However, the NDFP in a statement on Wednesday reiterated its support for an ouster.

"The Filipino people and their revolutionary forces reaffirm their determination to... seek the overthrow of (United States) imperialism and the puppet Duterte regime and establish a fully independent people's democratic state," it said.

The CPP also previously expressed belief that Duterte would be ousted within his six-year term.

But Casambre maintained that the left was more likely to support an ouster movement that had the support of other sectors, as opposed to leading one itself.

"To begin with, I don't think that the communist party has any illusion that it can oust any president by itself," Casambre added. "You read the party statements, they keep saying that any move to oust the President has to be a mass movement supported by a broad range of middle forces, big businesses, and a section of the military."

The NDFP, the umbrella organization of communist groups including the CPP, represents the party in negotiations with the government. However, peace talks are in limbo, as CPP founder and chief political consultant Jose Maria "Joma" Sison expressed distrust in Duterte. It has since been clarified that Sison's call to end talks is not an order.

The government has said negotiations are still on and an invitation for Sison to return to the Philippines still stands.

However, the CPP expressed belief that Duterte would be ousted within his six-year term.

No Church-left alliance

The CPP also hit Malacañang for accusing members of the clergy for being in cahoots with the left.

"With Duterte's tirades against the Church and religious beliefs having backfired, he is now accusing bishops and church leaders of conniving with 'terrorists' in the hope of casting aspersions against his critics," the party said.

Duterte has had a recent back-and-forth with the Church hierarchy following his controversial remarks calling God "stupid." Malacañang later formed a committee to dialogue with the institution, also amid a spate of priest killings.

The consultant likewise ruled out that the Reds were in talks with the Church.

Casambre threw his support behind a statement by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, who challenged Malacañang to name those Church leaders.

"I cannot imagine the Church leaders having sessions with communist party leaders. Can you?" he said.

What's next?

Contrary to Sison's statement, Casambre remains optimistic that negotiations will resume.

He even disputed that the President spoiled peace talks, even though some of his statements "would be considered big spoilers." Duterte previously said it would not matter if the fighting with communist rebels carried on for another 30 years.

"My view is that it's not the President himself who is the biggest spoiler," said Calambre. "The other side of the coin is under his term, peace negotiations made unprecedented advances."

Instead, Casambre pointed to resistance to reforms to address the root causes of the insurgency as the main hindrance to peace talks. He named illegal contracting by large corporations as one of the prevailing issues that still have not been resolved.

"From the military and from those sections of the population, small sections but very powerful ones, that do not want changes in economic policies, land reform, national industrialization, giving workers the right to regular jobs," he said.

Another controversial policy of Duterte's administration is its tax reform package, which has cut back on income taxes but raised taxes on fuel and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Casambre also noted the government's foreign policy, which experts and critics worry is too comfortable with China's military occupation in disputed West Philippine Sea territory.

The consultant cited a prediction from Sison that if the government continued with these practices, it would "push several large sections of the population to join and create that ouster movement."

In that case, said Casambre, "Professor Sison himself [said] it might be easier... not for the NDF to launch it itself, but to join the ouster movement."

Watch the full interview here.