Duterte Calls U.S. Ambassadors "Spies"

On Thursday, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte called U.S. ambassadors “spies” in response to a media report that alleged U.S. diplomats were trying to destabilize the government in Manila. "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, adding that he had received no intelligence from within his own government that such a plot was underway, and his comments were based on personal belief. The media report in question came from the Manila Times, which claimed it had received evidence of a “blueprint to undermine Duterte” from a “highly placed source.”
The Cipher Take: Duterte’s comments fit within his range of previous comments that show a longstanding distrust of the U.S. government’s presence in the Philippines. One of Duterte’s earliest comments that caught international media attention was his name-calling of former U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, who recently ended his term in Manila. Goldberg is the ambassador at the center of the alleged “blueprint” to overthrow Duterte. The placement of intelligence operatives and analysts in embassies is a common practice for many governments, and at this time there is no evidence to suggest that the U.S. State Department has supported, condoned, or even turned a blind eye to undermining Duterte’s presidency.


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