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Coup claim falls flat

But Trillanes stands pat on his disclosure

AN intelligence report circulating a day before President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address alleged that a new movement called “Resign Aquino Now” was being launched by the Guardian Strike Force Inc., but one of the former generals who was linked to the movement dismissed the report as foolishness.

Denial. Five former military and police officials faced reporters
at the Batasang Pambansa on Wednesday to downplay the
alleged coup plot allegedly being hatched by retired generals
against the Aquino administration. They are, from left, Reps.
Ashley Acedillo, Samuel Pagdilao, Romeo Acop, Leopoldo
Bataoil and Gary Alejano. Amid the coup reports, a convoy
consisting of an armored personnel carrier and military
trucks was caught in traffic along Edsa on Wednesday, but
the Army later said the convoy was simply on a regular
logistics run. Manny Palmero and Jun Veneracion of GMA7 News
A retired military officer told the Manila Standard that the report said the RAN was supposed to join the anti-Aquino rallies on SONA day, but the group shelved the plan for unknown reasons.

The report purportedly mentioned the names of retired military generals such as Danilo Lim and Manuel Cacanando as among those who were leading the movement.

But Lim, who served in the Aquino administration’s Bureau of Customs, dismissed the report as unfounded foolishness.

“Kalokohan iyan [That’s foolishness],” Lim told Manila Standard in a text message. “Hindi na dapat patulan iyan. Wala akong nakitang ganyan. Bwisit talaga yang mga gumagawa ng kwentong ganyan [That report should not be paid any attention. I do not see anything like that. The ones making up those stories are really jerks].” 

Cacanando had not replied to calls or text messages at press time.

Some military intelligence officials were baffled by the inclusion of Lim, a supporter of President Aquino, in the alleged movement.

“Sir Danny would not get himself involved in this type of activity,” said Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group at the Philippine National Police.

“It looks like someone is floating the idea hoping that it will generate some reactions among the uniformed personnel. Despite the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Fund) issues, this administration is still far better than the previous one,” he added.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Palace would not bother with the revelations from Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who first claimed that retired generals with links to former President Gloria Arroyo were plotting against the Aquino government.

“We are not concerned about it,” Lacierda said.

“One of the components if you want to launch a coup is the attempt to convince the men and women in active service. There are no reports of restiveness amongst the rank-and-file of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Lacierda added.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said the chain of command remained united and said there were no intelligence reports of any coup plot.

Logistical movements from the north to the south of Luzon during the night further fueled the talk of a coup, but the military said these were authorized movements.

“We apologize if we alarmed anyone, but these movements are necessary for the administrative and logistical support for our troops,” said Col. Ramon Zagala from Camp Aquinaldo.

He said the logistics movements came from the Southern Luzon Command based in Lucena City, Quezon and the Northern Luzon Command in Tarlac City, Tarlac.

The military supplies were brought to the Army Support Command in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Trillanes on Wednesday stood pat on his earlier disclosure, even though his critics accused him of peddling lies and rumors to boost his presidential ambition in the 2016 elections.

“I have sources of my information. I would not share rumors. I have sources,” Trillanes said, but again refusing to divulge them.

Asked if he shared his information with Malacañang, Trillanes said yes, but he declined to say if he had relayed his reports to the President.

He said it is up to the government security agencies to validate further the information he received.

“We do not know where these will bring us,” said Trillanes, who led two unsuccessful coups against Arroyo.

Two lawmakers and former Philippine Military Academy graduates said they too, came across some information about disgruntled retired generals, but they described a coup attempt as “possible” but “far-fetched.”

“You cannot stop the retired generals from talking to each other. It starts there. It is possible,” said Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano. “But with the President underscoring his administration’s support and attention to the military right with the pitch of Armed Forces modernization plan, a coup plot would not prosper.”

“We have yet to ascertain the source of the information,” added Rep. Francisco Acedillo, also of the Magdalo party-list. “The the intelligence and security agencies should verify this.”

Two former generals-turned-lawmakers played down reports of a coup plot against Aquino, saying it would not prosper as it has no support from the military and the Filipino people.

Reps. Romeo Acop of Antipolo and Leopoldo Bataoil of Pangasinan said that the coup plot was unlikely because there was no critical mass against the President.

“If there is indeed a coup plot, it would not succeed. You need a critical mass of the people to support it, and they do not have it,” said Acop.

Bataoil also dismissed the coup talk as speculation.

The Arroyo camp on Wednesday denied knowledge about any destabilization plot against President Aquino involving retired generals associated with her.

But Mrs. Arroyo’s husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, said most of the generals close to their family had already passed away.

He said Trillanes was just rumor mongering.

“He must be joking. No truth to that. Who would take that seriously? How can that be? She (Mrs. Arroyo) is detained. How can she plot?”

A retired military official on Wednesday branded Trillanes’ claim as an attempt to gain political mileage to advance his presidential bid in 2016.

Retired Major Gen. Cesar Tapia, then commander of the Southern Command, said Trillanes statement of a coup plot could be a publicity gimmick.

“Well that is a good publicity for him... because he is lagging behind in the talk [about possible presidential candidates],” Tapia said.

“He is not being mentioned as prospective candidate,” he added. With Maricel V. Cruz, Joyce Pangco Pañares, Rio N. Araja and Francisco Tuyay

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