‘They are all spies’: Philippines’ Duterte speaks on US envoy’s ‘destabilization blueprint’
The outspoken president of the Philippines has lashed out at the former US ambassador to the country, who reportedly left a ‘blueprint to destabilize’ the country’s government when leaving his post in November.
President Rodrigo Duterte said all ambassadors play a part in their respective countries' spying operations, but American ambassadors have a "forte" for undermining the government of their host countries.
"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," Duterte said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
Duterte was commenting on a Tuesday report in the Manila Times, which claimed that Philip Goldberg, who resigned in November his position as the US ambassador to the Pacific nation, has left behind a detailed plan on how to undermine the Philippines government and oust its president.
Citing a document received from a “highly placed source,” the newspaper said that Goldberg’s "blueprint to undermine Duterte" included supporting domestic opposition with grants and diplomatic assistance, pressuring other South Asian nations politically and economically to cut ties with the Philippines, and targeting the president’s supporters to alienate them.
The US on Thursday denied such a plan existed, but Duterte said this sounded plausible, considering how Goldberg had been expelled as ambassador to Bolivia in 2008. Leftist President Evo Morales accused the American diplomat of siding with his rightist opponents and of orchestrating street protests and gave him 72 hours to leave the country.
Speaking of the alleged destabilization plan, the Philippine president said: "You might be able to oust me, but I will give you a bloody nose."
Duterte has been on bad terms with Goldberg for quite some time. On one occasion he infamously called the American envoy a "gay son of a bitch" for interfering with Philippines politics.
President Duterte is notorious for his offensive remarks about domestic and foreign politicians and institutions, including US President Barack Obama, UN Secretary of State Ban Ki-moon, and the European Union. He has repeatedly threatened to cut ties with the Philippines' former colonial power the United States, and to build stronger ties with China and Russia instead.
Critics accuse Duterte of waging a bloody lawless war on drug sellers and users in the Philippines, which has claimed thousands of lives since he became president in June. He defends his policies, saying it’s not up to foreigners to dictate to the people of the Philippines how they should run their country.