AS reports of a coup d’etat continue to swirl amid looming massive protest rallies to pressure President Benigno Aquino 3rd into resigning, Malacañang has allegedly drafted an exit plan for the Chief Executive should these demonstrations gather strength, a highly placed source said.
The source on Thursday claimed that a Palace insider showed a draft of the exit plan to leaders of groups calling for Aquino’s resignation.
“In the midst of our conversation she showed us the documents supposedly containing the exit plan,” the source said.
“She showed us the copy of the alleged draft exit plan. We played this down since we did not know her intentions in showing us the document,” said.
“Apparently, the Palace is already feeling the heat,” the source added.
Some political observers and experts, however, believe Aquino will not step down.
The chairman emeritus of The Manila Times, Dante Ang Sr., said any such exit plan should not include the President’s resignation but should only involve securing his safety.
Ang recalled his own experience when former President Joseph Estrada attempted to do “Edsa Tres” against then-President Gloria Arroyo, the latter’s closest aides devised an escape plan for her if the protesters entered Malacanang.
Ang, however, said Arroyo would have rejected the escape plan and would have insisted on staying in Malacañang.
He added that if Aquino needed to go, his exit plan would be to set up a fortress in Hacienda Luisita where he could be protected by his own army.
“In Hacienda Luisita, he could also have the protection of his friends, Archbishop Villegas and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines [CBCP] and rule as
President more honestly until the end of his term,” he said.
Ang was apparently referring to Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, also president of the CBCP.
Public outrage had grown since the killing of the 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on Jan 25 by combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamaro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Calls for the President to step down snowballed after the now-suspended head of the Special Action Force (SAF), Getulio Napeñas, admitted that the President knew about the top-secret mission to capture two top terrorists and that he allowed Alan Purisima to run the operation despite Purisima’s suspension as Philippine National Police (PNP) chief by the Sandiganbayan for graft.
The source refused to disclose details of the exit plan.
He, however, said part of the plan was for Aquino to consider resigning if protests turn into a People Power uprising and the military and police withdrew their support for the President.
Another option would be the establishment of a military junta and Aquino being allowed to stay on in the Palace, but under such plan he would be reduced to a lame duck leader as the government would be governed by a joint council.
The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) also on Thursday confirmed that another People Power is in the works.
Former Rep. Teodoro Casino, now the spokesman for Bayan, said the planned nationwide protests that will start on February 22 are not part of a coup plot.
“It’s not a coup d’ etat nor an armed revolt. It’s People Power,” Casino pointed out, referring to activities and protests that various groups would mount in wake of the Mamasapano tragedy.
“Clearly the buck stops with the President. Many think part of the solution is removing him from office. But the bigger challenge is ensuring that the resulting government—whatever it is and whoever leads it—sustains the momentum to change the system. People Power should not end with Aquino’s ouster but continue until the necessary political, economic and social reforms for our people are in place,” he said.
Casiño revealed that many cause-oriented groups, civil society organizations, political leaders, religious, laity and concerned individuals have been meeting and discussing ways on how to remove Aquino in the light of his latest “blunder”—the death of 44 police SAF commandos in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao province.
“The growing consensus is that this is just the latest in a string of blunders by the Aquino government and a reflection of the systemic flaws in our political system.
Mamasapano was a fatal result of US intervention mixed with Aquino’s incompetence and lack of leadership. Many have expressed equal frustration over the administration’s failure to make a dent in the fight against bureaucratic corruption, cronyism, political patronage and criminality, not to mention the equally grave problems of chronic poverty and underdevelopment,” the Bayan spokesman said.
He called on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), PNP and local authorities “not to prevent people from coming out in the streets to express their demand for change.”
“There is nothing to fear from People Power . . . It’s not a coup d’ etat or an armed revolt,” the former lawmaker said.
“We are not calling for a coup d’ etat. We want the President to be held accountable for his many failures. Most people are demanding for truth and accountability on the Mamasapano incident. Many are also calling on President Aquino to step down for this and his many other failures. These are legitimate grievances and demands and the government should not prevent people from expressing their sentiments whether in social media or in the streets,” he added.
On Feb 25, exactly one month after the Mamasapano incident, and on the anniversary of EDSA 1, these groups will converge in an inter-faith prayer and form a symbolic human chain from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. starting at the Camp Crame EDSA gate stretching all the way to the EDSA Shrine on Ortigas Avenue.