Outspoken Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called US ambassadors “spies” amid local news reports that the US was seeking to destabilize his government.
Just as the US announced its “retaliation” against Russia for allegedly interfering in the US election, new information began to emerge about yet another US attempt to destabilize a democratically elected government. This Tuesday, the Manila Times reported that a “highly placed source” confirmed that a former US ambassador to the Philippines had created a “blueprint” for actions intended to destabilize Rodrigo Duterte’s government. The ambassador in question was Philip Goldberg, who just recently stepped down from the ambassador position. Goldberg had outlined various strategies to be carried out over an 18-month period in the document including co-opting the media, the military, regional allies, and senior government officials as well as actively supporting the opposition. These are all hallmarks of the US’ regime change policy, a policy which has no shortage of examples.
Duterte, prior to these latest revelations, had expressed his dislike for Goldberg in his characteristically vulgar style, calling him a “gay son of a bitch.” He had also called out Goldberg’s history of undermining governments on several recent television interviews as Goldberg was previously expelled from Bolivia in 2008 when Bolivian President Evo Morales accused him of funding the opposition and orchestrating “color revolution” street protests.
In the time since this latest revelation, Duterte has expressed his cynicism about the real motives of US diplomats. In a television interview cited by Reuters, he expressed his belief that “most of the ambassadors of the United States, but not all, are not really professional ambassadors. At the same time they are spying, they are connected with the CIA.” He then asserted that “the ambassador of a country is the number one spy. But there are ambassador of the US, their forte is really to undermine governments.” The US has denied the accusations. US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, Daniel Russel, rejected the Manila Times article, saying “The United States respects the sovereignty of the Philippines and the democratic choices made by the Philippine people.” However, such statements are dubious given the US’ penchant for regime change. Indeed, the US is confirmed to have interfered in foreign elections 81 times between 1946 and 2000 and such interventions were carried out covertly 65% of the time.
It’s no surprise why the US is targeting Duterte’s presidency. Duterte has openly expressed disdain for outgoing President Obama, who he recently told to “go to hell.” He has also expressed his desire to end the long-standing alliance between the US and Philippines and demanded the removal of US troops stationed in his country. Well aware of the consequences for angering the US, Duterte has since been pivoting towards China and Russia to secure new, key alliances while also expressing his optimism regarding a Trump presidency.
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