Palace vows to crush coup attempts

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The government vowed yesterday to crush any attempt to overthrow the administration and maintained that the rumored plotters of a coup hardly comprise the millions of Filipinos who voted for President Aquino.

Malacañang issued the stern warning following reports that the President’s maternal uncle, Jose Cojuangco Jr., and members of the Cabinet have joined groups calling for Aquino’s ouster due to his supposed culpability in the slaughter of 44 policemen in a clash with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Cojuangco was at a rally last week calling for Aquino’s resignation.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. assured the public that authorities are monitoring the situation and they would not allow anything that would endanger the public and disrupt peace.

Malacañang also clarified that the President is not hiding amid jokes and speculation that he refused to attend any public engagement after the Mamasapano incident on Jan. 25.

Coloma said it was mere coincidence that all the President’s engagements in the past weeks were held at the Palace, such as the reception for Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Feb. 9 and the Cabinet meeting on Feb. 16.

‘Arrest coup supporters’

The military and police are also not buying the rumored destabilization attempt.

Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) chief Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visayas yesterday ordered his men to arrest anyone who attempts to recruit them for destabilization.

Visayas warned that anyone who tries to organize a coup will face rebellion charges.

He expressed confidence that there is no attempt to persuade soldiers in SOLCOM to join a rebellion.

Soldiers and policemen in Southern Luzon showed their unity in supporting the President yesterday by forming a human chain during the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police Fellowship Day at Camp Guillermo in Lucena City

The soldiers and police interlocked arms while singing “Pilipinas Kong Mahal” to show that ties between the PNP and AFP in Southern Luzon are strong.

“The AFP and PNP in Southern Luzon remain loyal to the Constitution, the commander-in-chief and the chain of command,” Visayas said during the event.

“There is no need for a loyalty check in our ranks. With the AFP, we remain committed in our mandate in enforcing peace, law and order in the province,” Quezon province police Chief Superintendent Ronaldo Genaro Ylagan also said.

Even retired Navy commodore Rex Robles, one of the founding members of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement or RAM, which staged coup attempts against the President’s mother Corazon, expressed support for Aquino.

“The republic is safe. P-Noy is also safe. We will help him,” Robles said.

Resignation calls ‘comedic’

Members of the House of Representatives are also not supporting the calls for Aquino’s resignation.

“We’re not even talking about this in the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), because we think, how should I describe it, it’s comedic. We think that the solution calling for the President to step down is far worse than the problem that they are trying to remedy,” Isabela congressman and Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao told reporters.

He said the NPC would continue to support Aquino despite his perceived liability for the Mamasapano clash.

Aggabao is one of the leaders of the NPC, the second biggest political group in the House after the ruling Liberal Party (LP). He represents his party in the House leadership.

The NPC is identified with billionaire businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr., another uncle of Aquino. Cojuangco founded the NPC in 1992 as his vehicle for a failed presidential run.

Another Isabela congressman, Rodolfo Albano lll, said that the President could not be blamed for the Mamasapano carnage “because the lapses there were not committed by him but by those who carried out his standing order to arrest two terrorists.”

The lawmaker also said the resignation calls do not have popular support and these are just “coming from personalities who are ksp or kulang sa pansin (needing attention).” – With Jess Diaz, Aurea Calica, Alexis Romero, Non Alquitran, Michelle Zoleta

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