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Duterte threatens to jail Reds, other dissidents

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Friday warned he would declare a revolutionary government and arrest all political dissidents, including the communists and opposition “yellow” forces should they continue with their efforts to destabilize his administration. 

“If they try to destabilize and the situation becomes too violent, I will not hesitate to declare a revolutionary government until the end of my term. I will arrest all of you and we can go to a full-scale war against the Reds,” Duterte told his critics in a television interview aired over state-run PTV4. 

“If I think you’re about to take over the nation, and you have destabilized government like a new one would replace the current administration I am on guard,” he added. 

In a related development, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said he had instructed the Senate’s IT Department to find out what security measures could be adopted to thwart a recurrence of the spread of fake e-mails sent from the hacked e-mail accounts of the Senate’s minority staff.

He also ordered the department to determine if such hacking could be stopped. 

“Although I also haven’t seen any complaint  from Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino about this, we already acted on it, having read it in the news,” Pimentel said.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

Aquino, in a press conference on Thursday, revealed fake e-mails he said were attempting to connect the minority senators to destabilization plots.

“Fake news has escalated to fake e-mails and digitally planted evidence,” Aquino said.

Duterte is confident the military will stick with him amid destabilization efforts by the Reds and the Yellows. 

Duterte said the military was aware the Communist Party was active in the destabilization scheme, adding “Do you think the armed forces and police will sympathize with you after you’ve cheapened the lives of security forces with the [extrajudicial killings]?”

Duterte said his move to declare a revolutionary government was the same as what then President Corazon Aquino, whom he tagged as the “heroine of the yellows” did, soon after the Marcos regime. 

Unlike Marcos, Dutete sees a revolutionary government as a more practical step since this eliminates the need for the President to report to Congress.

When then President Marcos declared martial law in 1972, he did by virtue of his powers as commander-in-chief of the armed forces vested in him by the 1935 Constitution, after he called on the troops to quell a rebellion and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus—all steps given the incumbent chief oif state by the Charter.

Marcos lifted the emergency in  January 1981, three months before the presidential elections where he trounced former Defense Secretary Alejo Santos.

Aquino said the fake e-mails were found in the draft and spam folders of employees in an attempt by hackers to connect the opposition to the destabilization plots against the government.

“We decided to share this with the public because a lot of pro-administration personalities and online supporters alike are spreading fake news of a destabilization plot by the Liberal Party,” Aquino said. 

“We have no destabilization plot. Those behind the hacking and fake  e-mails are the true destabilizers.  They want chaos in the Philippines.”

Aquino said the accounts of some staff members had been used to send dubious e-mails containing controversial subject lines like “Leaked Media Plan to Destroy PRRD” and “The Investigation on DDS,” together with an attached file.

“It is also possible that these files, which prompt an error when opened, are being used to gain control of the device or fish for information,” Aquino said.

The minority senators have reported the issue to the National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Information and Communications Technology and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to determine the people behind the hacking and the spread of destabilization rumors.

A total of five e-mail accounts  have been hacked: two from the office of Aquino and three from the office of Senator Francis Pangilinan.

“We should know who are behind this and hold them liable. These people should go to jail because what they did was a crime,” Pangilinan said.

The Liberal Party senators have criticized the administration for continually insisting that the party had a plan to destabilize the government.

Liberal Party president Pangilinan stressed that airing criticisms and their sentiments were the foundations of democracy and should not be considered destabilization against the government.

Aquino said top government officials should stop floating news about destabilization as the Armed Force of the Philippines had declared it had monitored no moves to oust Duterte.

Senator Franklin Drilon said the administration should be open to criticisms and use these to improve governance and not consider them as destabilization moves.

“The administration needs to learn to take criticisms as these can also help improve ways of running the country,” Drilon said.

Topics: President Rodrigo Duterte , Political dissidents , Communists , Opposition “yellow” forces , Reds , Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III , Senate’s IT Department
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