Kin of ‘44’ want Noy out

Civil society groups join call for Aquino to resign

THE RELATIVES of the 44 police commandos killed in the top secret operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on Jan. 25 will join calls for President Benigno Aquino III to resign, a source said Wednesday.

The wives and immediate relatives of the slain commandos would join protests organized by civil society groups to hasten Aquino’s ouster, the source added.

“The family and relatives, though assured of appropriate financial and economic assistance by no less than by President Aquino, are still not contended. What they want is justice,” the source said.

Protest over the 44. Members of civil society groups and peace
advocates hold a rally in Mendiola to demand justice for the 44
policemen slain in Maguindanao on Jan. 25. Lino Santos
Ten days after the incident, the families still cannot understand exactly what happened.

The anger and frustration have been amplified by the President’s clumsy handling of the crisis, from his decision to skip the arrival rites at Villamor Airbase to his mishandling of the necrological services at SAF headquarters in Taguig City.

Two wives of SAF cops even refused to accept the medals and plaques being handed out by Aquino, and some chose not to be at the side of the coffins to show their disgust at the President.

Civil society and church leaders said they too will support calls for Aquino’s resignation.

“We will join them (SAF families) in calling for the resignation of Aquino,” Bayan Ko convener Chit Pedrosa said.

Militant organizations gathered at the US Embassy in Manila Wednesday calling for the resignation of Aquino.

Former Bayan Muna congressman Satur Ocampo voiced their anger at Aquino for the deaths of the 44 commandos.

“He should now resign because of his responsibility for the deaths of the SAF cops,” Ocampo said.

Members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives also demanded that Aquino resign in the light of the Mamasapano mess and the recent Supreme Court ruling affirming its ruling against the President’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The group, composed of Reps. Neri Colmenares, Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list; Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela Women’s Party; Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers party-list, Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis and Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list also demanded the House leadership led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. to finally begin the plenary deliberation on the impeachment case filed against President Aquino, which was snuffed out last year by the House committee on justice.

The seven militant lawmakers echoed the call of two Catholic bishops, Lipa, Batangas Archbishop Ramon Arguelles and Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo dela Cruz for the President to quit his post.

But House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. said calls for Aquino’s resignation were “baseless” and told the bishops “not to interfere in politics.”

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III also said the resignation calls were untimely.

“Having the President resign won’t solve the problem. Let us first allow the investigation being conducted by the proper body to proceed,” he said.

Colmenares, a House deputy minority leader, said had the President been impeached, the bloody Mamasapano would have happened.

He said Aquino was unfit for the position for being an “incompetent” and “uncaring” president.

In demanding his resignation Ilagan described Aquino as “a disaster president” and that the Mamasapano incident was a “manifestation of his incompetence.”

The Palace shrugged off the possibility of a coup d’etat amid the volatile political climate over the death of 44 elite police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said he does not agree with the observation of Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, a former mutineer, that the situation now was similar in 2003 under the Arroyo administration.

“The government is fully committed to uphold the security and well-being of the people against any attempt to create dissension and sow instability,” Coloma said.

Alejano did not discount the possibility of military restiveness which could increase the probability of a coup in the long term, especially if the President continues to fail to take bolder action on the incident.

“There’s that possibility,” Alejano said.

“If he is not able to address the emotions of the soldiers on the ground, the situation could erupt. That is why we are calling on the leadership to take action,” he said.

Coloma also rejected calls of two bishops for the President to resign, saying such a move was illogical and that Aquino is determined to finish his term.

“There is no logic to the call of these two bishops. The President has always followed the Constitution in implementing his sworn duties until the very last day of his term,” Coloma said.

Batangas Archbishop Ramon Arguelles earlier said Aquino should “step down and make way for a different government.”

“And if they don’t want to get out, let the people go out in the streets,” Arguelles said.

Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo dela Cruz made the same call.

“I ask that he should step down. (The President) is not competent enough to run the affairs of government,” dela Cruz added.

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