Coup rumors spread; troops ‘unhappy’

RUMORS of troop movements and calls for mass actions among the religious and civil society groups gripped the country on Friday, following the death of 44 members of the elite Special Action Force in a botched operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Talks of impending political unrest began to circulate after reports trickled in that the Aquino administration may have unwittingly sent the SAF members, now known as the Fallen 44, to their deaths because of lack of coordination and disrespect for the chain of command.

Sympathy walk. Members of the Philippine National Police march from
the Libingan ng mga Bayani to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City to
sympathize with the 44 policemen who died on Sunday following their
encounter with Muslim rebels in Maguindanao. Danny Pata
The 44 elite policemen, who were tasked to arrest Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, and local terrorist Basit Usman, were allegedly “massacred by the combined forces of the Bangsomoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the group which has entered into a peace agreement with the government.

Retired general Ramon Montano, the chief of the then Philippine Constabulary and Integrated National Police (PC-INP), said the rumors of discontent and unrest   could be fueled by the general feeling of dismay and unhappiness by members of the national police over the incident.

“As far as the troops are concerned they are unhappy and dismayed and this could spark unrest,” said Montano, who added that the SAF members were ‘executed by the MILF.

“It is an execution by the MILF criminals masquerading as rebels. They are plain criminals,” he said.

He claimed that MILF leaders Al Hadj Murad and Mohaquer Ibal appear to have no control over their men.

As of Friday night, there were rumors that some sectors had been calling on concerned Filipinos to gather at the EDSA shrine for a mass action against the Aquino government.

Some civil society leaders and church leaders, particularly those participated in the EDSA and Malacanang revolt that toppled then President Joseph Estrada will reportedly meet sometime this week to discuss their next move following the swelling discontent among the populace against the Aquino government.

Members of the Philippine National Police Academy Alumni Association Incorporated (PNPAAAI) also earlier staged a march at the headquarters of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) where the 44 SAF men were laid, to protest the death of their comrades,  as they called for a mandatory mass leave to show respect to fallen heroes.

 “We are calling on our alumni members to stand down and go on vacation leave for five days while we are in mourning. We have already sent communication to our alumni graduates who are dispersed all over the country to wait for our instructions regarding this,” said Retired police general Thomas Rentoy III, president of the PNPAAAI.

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