by Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN News
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Rumors of a plot that a group Filipinos overseas in the US are actively trying to oust Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, and elevate Vice-President Leni Robredo to assume power, continue.
An online discussion board, as well as the US Pinoys for Good Governance, have been linked as evidence to the plot.
San Francisco-based Fil-Am human rights lawyer and member of the US Pinoys for Good Governance, Ted Laguatan, has been named as a conspirator to oust Duterte — due to his articles in online news site, The Inquirer.
Laguatan continues to deny such allegations.
“In those emails that they chose, we were discussing legitimate protest rallies against the extrajudicial killings, and the hero’s burial of [Ferdinand] Marcos. So they cherry picked these emails,” Laguatan said. “They created a story that because of this, it is proof that we want to oust Duterte, which is not true.”
Because of this, Laguatan has been facing increased backlash via online comments, emails, and phone calls.
However, the attorney is not backing down.
“I cannot keep quiet in the face of evil. I cannot,” he said. “This is an option I made even when I was young, that the most important thing in my life is about loving God and my fellow man. So being silent in the face of evil is not an option for me.”
Laguatan says that he is simply exercising his freedom to openly discuss the issue of human rights violations that is happening, due to Duterte’s war on drugs.
“Free speech is important in the marketplace of ideas, so the theory is that the best ideas come out when there’s widespread discussion of issues,” he adds. “The best ideas are promoted and becomes part of policy. But by creating a climate of fear of speaking out; then you don’t have a vibrant democracy.”
Laguatan reiterates that intimidation will not stop him from writing more articles that criticize President Duterte — or from organizing and participating in protests — but he does say he has hope for the Philippines.
“I pray for the Philippines. I pray for the Filipino people. I even pray for Duterte and his men — I don’t hate them. I hate the evil that they do. I hate the sins that they do. Clearly, mass murder is against the commandment of God.