'Red October' claim 'not a diversionary tactic' to evade inflation issue

THE military's intelligence information on supposed "Red October" conspiracy to unseat President Rodrigo Duterte was not a diversionary tactic to avoid the government's predicament to address inflation, Malacañang said on Friday, September 28.

"Hindi ho namin kailangan pagtakpan ang problema na hinaharap. So lahat po tayo apektado ng inflation. Kaya nga po gumawa na ng hakbang para mapababa ang mga presyo, at mangyayari na po iyan," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in a radio interview.

(We do not need to whitewash the problems we are facing. We are all affected by the inflation. That's why we are taking measures to bring down consumer prices, and it will happen.)

"So sa amin po, kung walang ginagawa, pwedeng sabihing diversion. Pero ito po (Red October), ito naman po ay intelligence galing mismo sa military. Iyan po talaga ang trabaho ng military. At uulitin ko lang: kahit anong banta nila, hindi po sila magtatagumpay. Suportado ng taumbayan ang Pangulo," he added.

(So for us, you can claim it's a diversion of issue, if we are not doing anything. But in this case, the military's statement [on Red October] came from an intelligence gathering. That's the job of the military. And I repeat: they will not succeed despite their threats. The President has the public's support.)

Roque made the remark to debunk the opposition's claim that the alleged ouster plot against Duterte by October was merely part of the government's plan to deliberately conceal its shortcomings to control inflation.

READ: Philippines further tightens monetary policy

The country's inflation soared by 6.4 percent in August, the fastest pace in nine years, because of high international oil prices, food supply shortage, and a weak peso.

On Thursday, September 27, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) adjusted its inflation forecast for 2018 to an average 5.2 percent from the 4.9 percent it projected in its August 9 meeting.

The BSP also raised its inflation outlook for 2019 to 4.3 percent from, faster than the previous forecast of 3.7 percent.

It expected a higher inflation for two years, following the higher-than-expected August inflation, projected spike in prices of farm products in the wake of Typhoon Ompong, and the slower gross domestic product growth for the first half of 2018.

In an effort to pull down high consumer prices, the BSP increased its key interest rate by 50 basis points to 4.5 percent effective Friday, September 28.

Duterte also signed Administrative Order 13 in September 21, removing non-tariff barriers and streamlining administrative procedures on the importation of agricultural products to address shortfall on the supply and ensure stable prices of agricultural products in the domestic markets.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea likewise signed three memoranda to ensure seamless delivery of agricultural and fishery products in the country.

Roque stressed that the drivers of higher inflation are beyond the current administration's control.

He nevertheless assured the public that the government is doing its best to pursue counter-measures against inflation.

"Ang masasabi lang po natin, may mga bagay-bagay na hindi mako-kontrol. Pero ginagawan po natin ng paraan para maibsan ang epekto nito sa taumbayan (What we can say is there are things we cannot control. But we are making a way to ease the effect of inflation to the public)," the Palace official said.

"Nag-isyu na nga ng apat na order ang Presidente na dapat wala nang hadlang at balakid sa pag-pasok sa merkado nung mga inaangkat natin na pagkain, dahil ito naman talaga ang importante. Tumaas na ang lahat huwag lang ang pagkain," he added.

(The President already issued four orders that there should be no barrier and obstacle in importing food supplies into the markets, because that's what is really important. Everything may rice but not the food prices.) (SunStar Philippines)


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