FOR the first time since she assumed her Deputy Spokesman job in Malacañang, we found ourselves in total agreement with Ms. Abigail Valte on Friday when she said,
“We have not heard of any coup rumors” referring to alleged reports of a possible coup attempt being organized, triggered by the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) scandal.
We found her next statement, however, after saying the Palace had not heard any coup rumors at all—“Rumors will remain rumors until such time that there is any [indication]that they have become facts”—unbelievably inane. That is, however, not the point of this editorial.
We in The Times have not heard any rumor of a coup d’etat being hatched–or even whispered about—in the military worth reporting about. That is why we totally agree with the Palace’s stand on this issue.
What worries us is why the new Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., seems to be obsessed with the idea that the troops are getting restive and must be told to “stay the course and to keep to their mandates” because there are coup rumors.
We understand that he repeated the same message to the AFP rank and file while he was visiting Clark.
Insulate the military from politics In her words to reporters on Friday, Ms. Valte asked “the public” to leave the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) out of politics. She said, “Let us insulate the military from politics because the military works for the country and the people. We should not engage in any effort to politicize the military. They already have enough [problems]on their hands.”
Her message, which is supposed to reflect the thinking of the President and the men in his office who run the government with him, seemed to echo the exhortations made by AFP Chief Catapang to his men. The General seems to have heard the rumors of a coup sparked by the DAP scandal.
He is quoted to have told media people who asked him why he was talking about a coup, “What’s important is that they [the soldiers]know the essence of the news surrounding the DAP, we explain to them how the government and its three branches work.”
Perhaps, he is just worried that the soldiers, who have read and heard the news about the DAP scandal and the military allegedly having received some of the money, would feel as angry at and disappointed in President Aquino as many of their civilian fellow citizens.
Gen. Catapang is also quoted to have said, “There would be no coup, we are a professional Armed Forces . . . It would be hard if they get involved, we have experienced that during the 1980s, so we are over it.” He also said there are bigger problems than the DAP scandal the military should focus on.
But why did he address his men about it then?
Bringing up the subject of a coup when no body else is speaking about it would seem to be an attempt to provoke one.
That is precisely what agent provocateurs and intrigue masters do.
Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla has already floated a trial balloon, urging the President to wield emergency powers so he can have the authority to take exceptional steps to solve the power crisis.
We hope and pray General Catapang and the President–or some of his men–are not involved in a sinister scheme to put our country under emergency rule or even martial law.