ACTIVE and retired police and military officers and personnel have joined the clamor for the resignation of President Benigno Aquino 3rd and some are willing to come out to make their sentiments known, according to retired general Edilberto Adan, chairman and president of the Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO).
Adan, who once headed the Southern Command post, disclosed the apparent restiveness in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) amid warnings that the public outrage and discontent over the President’s handling of the Maguindanao tragedy may lead to an uprising.
“There are many who are discontented so it is possible that many in the ranks of active and retired (soldiers ad policemen) are supportive. However, in AGFO, we cannot ask them one by one or monitor them because we are 800 in all,” he said.
Adan confirmed that some retired senior officers are “actually eager” to surface and “make their presence felt” in support of ouster calls.
“But, again, these are individuals, not AGFO. There were discussions but no official position on the matter. What I can say is that there are some, not necessarily members of AGFO, who are eager to come out in the open,” he told The Manila Times.
Last week, AGFO condemned the killing of 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF) last January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, describing the incident as a “heinous, barbaric massacre” that cannot be justified by ongoing peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, whose forces combined with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in clashing with the police commandos.
The group, composed mostly of retired star-rank military and police officers who are veterans of the Mindanao insurgency and the campaign against terrorist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf, sought the surrender of the perpetrators and the return of the firearms seized from the slain policemen.
AGFO called for a “swift and independent” investigation of the supposed “mis-encounter.”
Retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz also on Wednesday said some relatives of the fallen commandos have also joined calls for the “peaceful” departure of the President.
In an interview with The Times, Cruz disclosed that as the ranks of disgruntled uniformed officers grow, so does the clamor for Aquino’s ouster.
“There are retired and there are active [officers from both the police and the military]. Mukhang may sumasama na ring nawalan ng kamag-anak sa mga namatay na SAF [It looks like there are relatives of the fallen police who are joining the clamor for Aquino to step down],” he said.
The archbishop earlier said he was approached by leaders of various groups who also asked Aquino to leave Malacanang.
“These are groups of people with different objectives but now have merged into one. These are cause-oriented groups who have united… And their number is continuously growing,” he added.
Cruz, however, clarified that no guns or goons will be used, meaning the groups are not planning to stage any form of a power grab.
“More and more are joining this group. They are tired of the leadership of Aquino.
They come from both the police and the military,” he said.
According to him, at least 15 bishops are actively supporting these groups, which he did not identify “so that they may not be compromised.”
“[There are bishops]. There are 15 bishops who are individually against the President. They don’t like him anymore. But this is not the CBCP (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines). CBCP is not among these groups,” Cruz said.
Malacanang, however, said Aquino will not step down.
Its spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, dismissed calls for the President to quit as “not new.”
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Aquino is “determined to finish his term.”
He called for sobriety and asked the public to study closely the issues surrounding the Mamasapano massacre and not to give in to emotions.