A party-list lawmaker who was part of the group that staged a coup against former president and now Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said today’s political climate bears similarity to the time of Arroyo’s administration, hinting that some groups may take advantage of the situation.
The warning came amid calls from two members of the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines for President Benigno Aquino III to resign following the botched operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao where 44 Special Action Forces commandos were killed while trying to arrest a wanted Malaysian terrorist.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, a former mutineer, said that allegations of massive military corruption and lack of strategic, security and policy directions under Arroyo’s term in 2003 was the main reason why there was restiveness among the men in uniform at that time, which are the same reasons why there is restiveness among the ranks of the police and the military today.
“Isang rason doon during the term of Arroyo] ay walang maliwanag na security, policy direction. Ang gobyerno ngayon iyon din ang nakikita ko. Right now, we do not have a clear national security strategy. We keep reacting,” Alejano said. “Kung hindi maliwanag direksyon ng gubyerno, patuloy na mamatay ang kasundaluhan, kapulisan. Walang saysay, walang direksyon. Napakalaking issue ang national security,” he added.
Alejano also urged suspended National Police chief Alan Purisima to face the issue as he was alleged to have led the operation in Mamasapano.
“Kung wala kang (Purisima) itinatago, kailangan sagutin. Kailangan niyang magsalita in public to clear himself,” Alejano said.
The lawmaker said the area where the clashes happened was outside of the six areas said to be the turf of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“Kaya nga tayo nananawagan sa gobyerno na magkaroon ng strong stand against the brutal killing. Dahil kung di gagawin iyan, which hindi ginawa, magdudulot ng demoralization ng ranks ng PNP and the AFP. We understand they will obey orders and follow the chain of command but you cannot ignore their sentiments,” he said. Alejano did not discount the possibility of military restiveness which could increase the probability of a coup in the long term, especially if President Aquino continues to fail to take bolder action on the incident.
“May posibilidad na ganun. Kapag di pa nasagot ang emosyon ng mga sundalo natin sa ground, sasabog yun. Kaya pinapanawagan natin sa leadership [na gumawa ng hakbang]. Nakakalungkot na nag-sisihan ang AFP at PNP. Dapat liwanagin at bigyan sila ng maliwanag na direksyon para isa lang nagsasalita,” he added.
Alejano also echoed the calls of his fellow legislators to suspend the deliberations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law pending the result of the investigation into the Mamasapano incident.
Meanwhile, left-leaning Pambansang Katipunan ng Mga Magbubukid-NDF president Andres Agtalon, urged the PNP and AFP members to defect from the government.
Agtalon urged the troops to instead embrace the ideals of an underground revolutionary organization of policemen and soldiers called the Lt. Crispin Tagamolila Movement, arouse, organize and mobilize progressive elements within their ranks, and abandon their commander in chief, President Aquino.
The movement was named after a young Philippine Military Academy graduate, Lt. Crispin Tagamolila, who defected to the National Peoples Army in the early 1970s.
“We challenge the disgruntled elements within the PNP and the AFP to reject Aquino and his similarly corrupt officials in the military and police. They should demonstrate different forms of protests, both open and clandestine, against Aquino and defy his fascist orders,” he said.
He added that the President must be “principally” held liable for the Mamasapano clash that killed 44 elite members of the PNP-Special Action Force, he added.
Despite the denial of the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation of any involvement in the Mamasapano battle, Agaton said the US was the brains behind the botched operation of the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash.
“The haciendero President’s mobilization of the police as sacrificial pawns to the US-instigated operation Wolverine shows Aquino’s penchant of exploiting farmers that extends to rank and file troops whose majority came from the peasant class.”
Meanwhile, Lipa, Batangas Archbishop Ramon Arguelles and Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo dela Cruz asked that Aquino quit his post because he (Aquino) proved that “he is not doing anything good for the people.”
Arguelles, a former military ordinary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, told ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol that Aquino committed an impeachable offense and could be held liable for not following the line of command, especially when he forced policemen to follow illegal orders from suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima.
“His duty is to defend the Constitution, but he is the one destroying it. So he should no longer supposed to be there. He has already renounced being President,” he said.
Arquelles also expressed dismay at Aquino’s continued display of insensitivity to the pains of ordinary Filipino” and asked soldiers and policemen if they really feel they deserve the present commander-in-chief.
Dela Cruz, on the other hand, said he is asking the president to step down because of his “incompetence.”
“I ask that he step down because he is an incompetent president. He is not competent enough to run the affairs of the government. This particular incident, the massacre in Mamasapano, calls for something like that. He should step down for another president who can do better,” he said.
“Ano’ng nangyari, meron pa tayong Maguindanao massacre sa mga media people, tapos ngayon meron na naman,” dela Cruz said, clarifying that his opinion may not reflect that of the CBCP.
Aside from the bishops, Bayan KO led by Carmen Pedrosa, a staunch supporter of the late Benigno Aquino, said they are calling on the informal sectors, composed of farmers, laborers, fishermen and other marginalized groups to march in the streets to force Aquino to step down.
“We have to change this government because it has failed in its promises of dramatic change in governance, especially on the socio-political and economic development in this country,” Pedrosa said.
Pedrosa said they already met with church leaders and other civil society leaders to map out plans for peaceful actions not only against the Aquino regime but against all politicians as part of their desire to overhaul the present political set-up.
“We will not only demand the resignation of President Aquino but also of all politicians,” Pedrosa said.
Pedrosa said she had ill feelings with Noynoy Aquino because of the massive corruption taking place and for his complicity in the botched operation in Maguindanao.
She said the mobilization of forces will take place in the days to come.
In Malacanang, Communications Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma, however, dismissed reports of alleged destabilization efforts as baseless, saying that that the government was not even conducting any loyalty check.
At the same time, Coloma said that the government is determined to find out the truth about the Mamasapano incident.
“Sa kasalukuyang panahon, ang pinakamainam ay huwag po tayo padadala sa naglalako ng mga kwentong hitik sa intriga at wala namang kongkretong batayan dahil hindi po ‘yan nakakatulong sa ating bansa,” Coloma said.
As this developed, Philippine National Police Officer In Charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina said that he would investigate why the 300 members of the Special Action Force (SAF)failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered comrade who were pinned down by the combined Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (MILF-BIFF) at the height of the clashes in Mamasapano.
In a radio interview, Espina said he was puzzled as to why the 300 SAF commandos from the 84th and 55th SAF companies, who were pre-positioned a few kilometers from the site of he encounter in Brgy. Pidsandawan, Mamasapano, failed to reinforce their comrades who were being waylaid by the moro rebels.
“We would like to know that did they (300 SAF) do. The main group was (composed of) 38 and the blocking force was wiped out, all 35 of them and only one escaped. The 300-plus who were supposed to provide support, the 55th SAC, we’re asking them what happened? Bakit hindi kayo nakasama?,” said Espina.
The 84th SAF Company, composed of 38 elite commandos led by Senior Insp Ryan Pabalinas, was assigned as the second blocking force during the assault at the alleged lair of Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan.
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