LEADERS of a group who want to overthrow President Benigno Aquino 3rd and replace him with someone else have held several meetings to iron out their plan, according to Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
The group is being financed by a very “rich” man who is known to have funded similar coup attempts in the past, she disclosed on Thursday.
“I have intelligence, as of yesterday [Wednesday], that leaders of certain alphabet soup acronyms who are familiar with the public had a recent meeting because they wanted to discuss how to stage a coup d’etat,” Santiago said, adding that the plotters should be arrested.
“All of those planners should be arrested immediately because like any other crime under the penal code, the crime of coup d’etat has three stages, attempted, frustrated [and]consummated,” Santiago said.
In a news conference after attending a Senate committee hearing on the Mamasapano clash, she also disclosed that the ouster of Aquino was the subject of a “summit” meeting among the leaders of a “rogue” group planning to eliminate the President.
The senator said the group has not yet reached a consensus on who would replace Aquino if he was ousted.
“But they have been meeting with their financier, the most prominent financier is the richest man of all,” Santiago told reporters.
The senator refused to identify the group’s financier, saying she does not want to make a big deal out of it.
“I am against the removal of President Aquino by any means except those that are legal. As President, he can only be impeached,” she said.
“No matter how bitterly I criticize President Aquino, I am a lawyer and I still remain standing behind the rule of law. If he should leave his office, let him leave at a proper time but not by extra-legal means,” the senator added.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin also on Thursday confirmed that they had received reports about the plot against the President.
He said the Defense department is verifying the reports.
“There were reports but we’re very confident that the military will not be involved in a coup d’etat,” Gazmin added.
Rumors of a brewing coup circulated after the massacre of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) members in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on January 25.
But Malacañang is also confident that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is ready to stop any coup attempt against the government.
“Lahat ng mga banta laban sa estado ay tinututukan at ganap ang kahandaan ng ating sandatahang lakas laban sa mga bantang iyan [We are monitoring all threats against the State and the Armed Forces is fully prepared to meet such threats],” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a news briefing.
“Katungkulan ng sandatahang lakas na pigilan at puksain ang lahat ng kalaban ng estado at ginagampanan nila ang tungkuling ito sa lahat ng pagkakataon [It is the AFP’s duty to stop and crush the enemies of the State and they are faithfully doing their job at all times],” Coloma added.