MANILA, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said most U.S. ambassadors are undermining foreign governments by spying, and specifically mentioned former envoy Philip Goldberg.
Duterte was responding to a report Tuesday in The Manila Times that the former ambassador had prepared a "blueprint to undermine" Duterte. It cited information from a "highly placed source" that Goldberg had a list of "strategies" for his eventual ouster in a timetable of 1 1/2 years.
The U.S. State Department the same day described the allegations as "false." Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said in a statement to the newspaper, "As we have said, our relationship with the Philippines is broad and our alliance is one of our most enduring and important relationships in the Asia Pacific region."
During remarks in a television interview, Duterte broadened the accusations to other ambassadors.
"In the matter of the credible news, maybe you may have an inkling on how this guy operates," Duterte said. "Because most ambassadors of the United States, but not all, are not really professional ambassadors... at the same time they are spying. They are really connected to the CIA."
"The ambassador of a country is the No. 1 spy but there are ambassadors of the United States to undermine governments. That's what happened to Bolivia," he added.
Goldberg served as U.S. ambassador to the Philippines from Dec. 2, 2013 to Nov. 4, 2015.
Before Goldberg's deployment in Manila, he was the assistant secretary for intelligence and research at the U.S. Department of State.
In 2006, President George W. Bush nominated him as ambassador to Bolivia. On Sept. 10, 2008, Bolivia's government gave Goldberg 72 hours to leave the country after the United States allegedly provided millions of dollars to opposition leaders and think tanks who opposed Bolivian President Evo Morales.
The U.S. State Department said the allegations against Goldberg are baseless.
"That's what happened with Bolivia," Duterte said. "He was expelled because he was undermining the native president there.
"And Goldberg started to dig under, to erode the foundation of the presidency and he was expelled persona non grata."