FORMER University of the Philippines Law professor Harry Roque on Tuesday confirmed reports of a Liberal Party (LP) plot to eliminate Vice President Jejomar Binay and Sen. Grace Poe from the presidential race so that the administration can grab power through a “legal coup d’etat.”
In a statement released to the media, Roque virtually confirmed a Manila Times report on Monday about a supposed LP-backed “black ops” against the two presidential frontrunners. The ruling party’s standard bearer had been trailing Poe and Binay in past surveys.
The outspoken lawyer warned that all signs pointed to the LP using its position in power “to use its influence in the courts to secure what it cannot win for their candidate at the polls: the presidency.”
“The irony of this ‘legal coup’ is that it is happening under the watch of President Aquino, the son of two icons of democracy,” he lamented.
According to Roque, a Kabayan (Kabalikat ng Mamamayan) Party-List nominee, there are rumblings in the legal community that Roxas has tapped Sen. Franklin Drilon and lawyers associated with The Firm, or the defunct CVC Law, to ensure that Poe is disqualified from the race by virtue of her questioned citizenship.
The Manila Times’ sources claimed former associates of the powerful law firm are working with their contacts in various agencies to implement the plot, which would be an easy “power grab.”
Roque confirmed that aside from disqualifying Poe, efforts to imprison Binay and prevent Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte from running would go into high gear so that the lone candidate left opposing Roxas would be Sen. Miriam Santiago.
Roque noted that Roxas continues to lag behind other presidential hopefuls despite a non-stop, three-month campaigning.
The lawyer asserted that the only option left for the Roxas camp is to lead a “legal coup d’etat” that would involve the elimination of his rivals.
“The public should be vigilant and closely watch the allies of the administration in the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), the Comelec, and the Supreme Court, because if we lower our guard, their decisions will not be guided by the rule of law, but by the nation’s current rulers,” he warned.
“The Firm” is a term used to refer to CVC Law, which was founded by SC Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio. One of his former partners, Avelino Cruz, is a staunch Roxas ally and was part of Aquino’s legal team in 2010.
Roxas and Drilon pushed for the appointment of Cruz’s fraternity brothers in the Comelec — Commissioners Al Parreño and Arthur Lim.
Drilon, Carpio, Cruz, Parreño, and Lim are all members of the Sigma Rho Fraternity of the UP College of Law.
“During the time of President Cory, the threats to democracy were the coups launched left and right by rogue elements of the Armed Forces. Now a similar coup is underway, right under our noses. But this time, it’s generals wear barong tagalogs and its soldiers are armed with petitions and pleadings,” said Roque.
“Kabalikat namin ang mamamayan laban sa coup na ‘to. God save our democracy. No blood will be spilled in this coup, but it will lead to the death of democracy and the denial of one of the most basic rights of our people: the right to choose our leaders,” he added.
Last Monday, LP officials took turns in dismissing the supposed “black propaganda.”
In separate interviews with The Manila Times, Budget secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and LP spokesman Barry Gutierrez denied that they hatched insidious legal moves to have Poe disqualified and Binay jailed.