Philippines’ Duterte alleges coup plot based on tip from a foreign power

In this photo released by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, listens to a question from Chief Presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo during a state TV talk show at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines, on Tuesday Sept. 11, 2018. (AP)
Updated 12 September 2018
0

Philippines’ Duterte alleges coup plot based on tip from a foreign power

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday revealed what he said was a plot to unseat him hatched by the opposition, Maoist rebels and a group of former soldiers who had mounted failed coups in the past.
In a conversation with his lawyer, shown on national television, Duterte said he had asked the military to “declassify” information about the plot which he said was gathered by a third country he did not identify.
“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.
He said the Communists, politicians opposed to him and a group of ex-servicemen, including a senator he wanted arrested after revoking his amnesty, “were in constant communication.”
Duterte said the “connection will be shown, maybe any day now.”
Last week, Duterte withdrew a 2010 amnesty granted to his most vocal critic, Senator Antonio Trillanes, a former junior naval officer who led two unsuccessful coup attempts 15 years ago, and ordered his arrest.
Trillanes’ party-mate, Congressman Gary Alejano, who also took part in the failed coups, denied the president’s accusations they were plotting his ouster, saying they were only doing their work as “members of the opposition under the checks and balance system of our democratic government.”
Alejano said the president was trying to “divert the attention of the people from the present economic woes they themselves have failed to address.”
Duterte also warned soldiers against “colluding” with Trillanes’ group as coup rumors swirled in the capital early on Tuesday after army trucks and armored vehicles were seen rolling down Manila’s main roads.
The military quickly denied there were “sizeable movements of military aircraft or armored vehicles.”
“There is no cause for alarm,” military spokesman Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo told reporters, adding these were “routine movements that are properly coordinated.”


Divided APEC leaders battle for unity after US, China spat

Updated 18 min 5 sec ago
0

Divided APEC leaders battle for unity after US, China spat

  • Speeches from Chinese President Xi Jinping and US Vice President Mike Pence appeared to represent competing bids for regional leadership
  • Some attendees voiced concern about the growing rivalry for influence in the region

PORT MORESBY: Leaders from 21 Asia-Pacific nations battled to paper over gaping differences Sunday after an unusually sharp exchange of words between the group’s two most powerful members, the United States and China.
With just hours of the two-day summit remaining, officials were still scrambling to forge enough of a consensus to issue a formal joint statement and were admitting privately that it might not be possible, amid yawning differences on trade policy.
The annual gathering has been overshadowed by speeches on Saturday from Chinese President Xi Jinping and US Vice President Mike Pence, which appeared to represent competing bids for regional leadership.
Pence warned smaller countries not to be seduced by China’s massive Belt-and-Road infrastructure program, which sees Beijing offer money to poorer countries for construction and development projects.
The “opaque” loans come with strings attached and build up “staggering debt,” Pence charged, mocking the initiative as a “constricting belt” and a “one-way road.”
He urged nations instead to stick with the United States, which doesn’t “drown our partners in a sea of debt” or “coerce, corrupt or compromise your independence.”
In a speech to business leaders just minutes before Pence, Xi insisted the initiative was not a “trap” and there was no “hidden agenda” — amid criticism that it amounts to “chequebook diplomacy” in the region.
Xi also lashed out at “America First” trade protectionism, saying it was a “short-sighted approach” that was “doomed to failure.”
The feisty barbs on a gleaming white cruise ship moored in Port Moresby set the scene for a potentially fiery meeting between Xi and US President Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of this month.
But Xi and Pence, who both wore shiny, red shirts provided by the Pacific island did hold talks on Saturday night at the leaders’ gala dinner.
Pence told reporters on Sunday: “I spoke to President Xi twice during the course of this conference. We had a candid conversation.”
He told him that the US is interested in a better relationship with China “but there has to be change” in Beijing’s trade policies.
With fears that a trade war between the two rivals could cripple the Pacific Rim economy, some attendees voiced concern about the growing rivalry for influence in the region.
“Business leaders do not want to speak out, but behind the scenes here, they are talking over dinner saying ‘how has this happened’?” said Denis O’Brien, the billionaire chairman of Digicel.
“It’s a very forced situation, one country is trying to force all the other countries to change tariffs agreed over years,” O’Brien told AFP.
Trump — and Russian President Vladimir Putin — both decided to skip the gathering, leaving the spotlight on Xi who arrived two days early to open a Chinese-funded school and road in Papua New Guinea’s dirt-poor capital Port Moresby.
Xi has been the star of the show, front and center at official photos whereas Pence has kept a lower profile, only deciding at the last minute to stay overnight in Port Moresby — shelving original plans to fly in and out from Cairns in Australia.
As if to counter Chinese largesse, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Japan on Sunday announced a project to boost electricity capacity in Papua New Guinea.
The project aims to raise the percentage of the PNG population with access to electricity from 13 percent to 70 percent.
And as the US and China vie for influence in the region, the statement dangled the prospect of similar projects for countries that “support principles and values which help maintain and promote a free, open, prosperous and rules-based region.”
With the official business of the summit relatively low-key, much of the focus has been on the unlikely venue of Port Moresby, which is hosting its first international event of this scale.
The city is on lockdown with hundreds of police and military patrolling the streets of the notoriously crime-ridden capital.
Warships are stationed just off the coast to provide security for the leaders, and delegates and media have been housed in enormous cruise ships due to a dearth of hotel rooms.