Reform council launches PNoy-Resign movement
CLARKFIELD, Pampanga: CALLS for President Benigno Aquino 3rd to step down and “peacefully relinquish” his post grew louder on Wednesday as more people joined the National Transformation Council (NTC) bandwagon for reform, including the President’s own uncle and aunt, Jose “Peping” and Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco.
Although Aquino’s uncle failed to attend the NTC assembly in the former US airbase due to a prior commitment, Margarita stood in for her husband and expressed support for the reforms being espoused by the NTC.
Former senator Francisco Tatad, who was one of the speakers, described the Aquino Administration as the “most corrupt” in history, citing the controversies hounding the government such as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) scams which, according to him, could reach as high as P1 trillion in terms of abused public funds.
Tatad stressed that Aquino should step down because his government is no longer functioning as shown by reports of persistent corruption and the rising crime wave.
Tatad said it is easy to cover up corruption because many lawmakers in the Senate and the House of Representatives are the President’s allies.
The Manila Times interviewed the President’s uncle who confirmed that he and his wife support the NTC’s calls for reform and that he believes that a “transition government” under former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno could work.
“I’m not involved yet and I don’t know what they are doing right now but I believe reforms are needed in our government,” Cojuangco, a three-term congressman and now Philippine Olympic Committee president, told the Times.
“I believe in what they [NTC] are doing and I simply like it,” he stressed.
His remarks confirmed a Times report published on Tuesday that he had joined the clamor for the resignation of the President, along with lawyer Jose Malvar Villegas, the great grandson of Gen. Miguel Malvar. Villegas was also present during Wednesday’s gathering at Clark.
Cautious with his statements, Cojuangco Jr. said he failed to attend the event because he was at the birthday celebration of Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing. He added that major reforms in the government should be done for the people’s sake.
“Everybody is disappointed with what is happening now in the country that’s why maybe there is an ongoing movement to support the President’s resignation. But again I’ll tell you I have nothing to do with that. I can’t say anything about that issue,” he emphasized.
“In time, maybe I’ll join them.”
Also present during the NTC assembly were former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, former armed forces chief Hermogenes Esperon, Davao Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla and representatives of various religious organizations.
In a separate interview, Cojuangco’s wife said the call for Aquino’s resignation depends on the Filipino people. She echoed Tatad’s assertion that many are turning their backs on the government because of the corruption that is apparently being condoned by Malacanang.
“As a citizen and former public servant, I obey all the laws stated in our constitution, more so people in Malacañang should lead by example all citizens to obey the law and not be corrupt,” she said.
She added that there was widespread cheating during the 2010 presidential elections when she ran and lost as a senator under the Nacionalista party, a rival of the Liberal Party.
Mrs. Cojuangco claimed that the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines were pre-programmed in favor of candidates who offered the biggest amount to the Commission on Elections.
“My husband [Peping] has worked with many IT [information technology]specialists and we will soon divulge the cheating they have done by using the PCOS machines,” she said.
She was similarly cautious in answering questions related to the calls for her nephew to step down.
“I never asked for him to step down. But the conscience of many Filipinos for the truth will be awakened and I am sure they will join this movement. Then it is up to the people of Malacañang whether they would step down,” she said.
Villegas told The Times that the fight involves the elimination of all types of pork barrel funds such as the PDAF and DAP and that their struggle would be “non-violent.”
“We will do our best to awaken the conscience of the President for him to decide for himself whether he will step down or not. If he does, he will leave a good legacy,” said Villegas, founding chairman of the Citizens’ Crime Watch.
In its banner story on Tuesday, the Times reported that former congressman Cojuangco had joined a movement to establish a “transition government” that will be headed by Puno to support the call of the NTC for the country’s incumbent president to step down.
The group of Villegas intends to gather 10 million signatures nationwide to support the call for the President’s resignation.
Cojuangco is the older brother of late former President Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco Aquino, the mother of Benigno 3rd and wife to assassinated former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.
In August this year, Arguelles hosted the Lipa assembly and called on Aquino to quit immediately.
Another assembly was held in Cebu on October 1, and this time, a statement was issued urging the NTC to pursue “all necessary and available lawful means” to compel the President to step down at the soonest possible time and to “immediately organize an alternative government, consisting of men and women of integrity and proven worth.”