THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is keeping an eye on troop movements amid reports of a coup plot against President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
There have been mounting calls for the President to step down after the killing of 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF) by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its supposedly breakaway group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc on Thursday said the military is verifying reports that a takeover of government control is supposedly being hatched by some military personnel.
But based on initial consultations with ground commanders, according to Cabunoc, there has been no feedback confirming the plot.
But just the same, the military official said any troop movements will be closely watched.
“We have established an excellent monitoring system where troop movements and suspicious activities are directly reported to the leaders along the AFP’s chain of command,” he said.
The AFP spokesman appealed to the people not to glorify attempts to divide the nation.
He gave assurances that soldiers will support the government in helping solve the country’s problems.
“We assure the public that the AFP and the PNP [Philippine National Police] are all dedicated professionals whose sole interest is to keep the peace and security of our country. We also continue to work together for the interests of the nation and deny any rift between us,” Cabunoc said.
He added that the Mamasapano incident will serve as the military’s platform to strengthen its relationship with the PNP “as we work together in fighting the enemies of the State, and in performing our mandate of protecting the people and the State.”
The PNP was quick to douse destabilization rumors.
PNP spokesperson and Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr. also on Thursday labeled any coup talk going around as merely “rumors.”
“These are merely rumors, but I have to admit that the PNP is hurting over the Mamasapano incident,” Cerbo told reporters in a news briefing.
Cerbo said the PNP remains loyal to the constitutional process and that there was no need to conduct a loyalty check among its ranks.
Some lawmakers said any attempt against the President will not prosper because the grieving public is preoccupied with seeking justice for the slain policemen.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Representatives Romero Quimbo of Marikina City (Metro Manila), Elpidio Barzaga of Dasmariñas (Cavite), Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, Sitti Hataman of Abante Mindanao party-list and Carol Lopez of You Against Corruption party-list were reacting to a statement by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin that he had received reports of the ouster plot.
“That coup won’t fly. There is no reason to grab power,” Belmonte told The Manila Times.
“Coup plotters are a thing of the past. It’s not one bit cool. The public’s support is central for its success. No one in the public will support it today,” Quimbo said.
Barzaga said even if the people were outraged by the massacre of police commandos in Maguindanao, the public will not support a military takeover.
“Assuming that majority of the people are against the President, they can hold him accountable through legal means [such as]an impeachment, or filing cases against him once his term is over in June 2016 because as President, the Commander-in-Chief is immune from any lawsuit,” he pointed out.
“What the nation needs now is social coherence, especially with everything that’s happening,” Hataman, wife of Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said.
Lopez called on the public to uphold the law and not let hatred prevail.
“As responsible civilians, we must not fan the fire,” the House Deputy Minority Leader said.