An influential group composed of well-known personalities is recruiting socio-civic leaders who could bring in the numbers to spark an Edsa-like movement that will call for the resignation of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, who allegedly betrayed Filipinos by sending 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos to their death.
Retired Lingayen- Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz withheld the names of the leaders, but hinted that the group is composed of retired and active military officials, former government officials, Catholic Church bishops, officials of Protestant churches, Muslim leaders, personalities from the academe and some legal luminaries.
Some of the leaders, he said on Tuesday, are current members of the House of Representatives.
Edsa was the venue of two historic bloodless People Power revolts—in 1986 when Filipinos spent four days to call for the ouster of strongman Ferdinand Marcos and in 2001 which ended the presidency of Joseph Ejercito Estrada.
Cruz, who spearheaded the fight against the illegal numbers game jueteng, said some of the new Edsa movers will come from the National Transformation Council, a group composed of civic and Church leaders that had also called on Aquino to step down.
He added that Filipinos are angry because the President had caused the death of the “Fallen 44.”
“No less than 44 precious lives lost–wasted, mutilated, desecrated. Mostly young PNP-SAF members mercilessly killed. Parents lost their beloved sons. Spouses lost their dear husbands. Children lost their precious fathers,” Cruz said.
According to the archbishop, the President, suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa were responsible for the death of the SAF commandos in the hands of Moro Islamic Liberation Front separatist rebels on January 25.
“They were commanded to go to a place supposedly to capture two known extremists. There, they were instead massacred by members of different war advocates talking peace with the government,” he said.
Cruz added that the Catholic Church is now very much involved in the ouster movement, with 15 bishops condemning and blaming the President for the Mamasapano (Maguindanao) massacre.
He said the rallies being planned will be peaceful.
The group’s inaugural rally will be launched in Manila, with similar activities planned to be simultaneously held in the provinces and in major cities.
“Out of the gross, detestable and continuing national shame, something is coming to fore: More and more people are resolved to get the supposedly noblest and highest public official out of the way. He is nowhere worth 44 lives. The earlier he is gone, the better,” Cruz said.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Students of the Philippines also on Tuesday also called on Aquino to step down for grave abuse of authority, gross negligence, betrayal of public trust and conspiracy with a foreign government, as they deplored the President’s allegedly subsequent cover-up of the Mamasapano carnage.
“The Mamasapano clash is just the tip of the iceberg, but it has revealed how irresponsible and inhumane Aquino’s leadership is. Aquino has once again abused his authority and committed gross negligence,” Sarah Jane Elago, the group’s national president, said in a statement.
“We seek justice for all the casualties in the Mamasapano clash and hold Aquino, [Purisima] and the US government responsible for the ‘conspiracy’ and ‘organized massacre,’ sacrificing the lives of the SAF, the Moros [Muslims] and civilians,” Elago added.
The student group claimed that the President authorized Purisima to push through with the Mamasapano operation without informing the chain of command of the PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines, the government and MILF peace panels and the Department of Interior and Local Government.
“As if abuse of authority and gross negligence were not enough, Aquino has once again violated public trust by lying through his teeth for trying to cover up the Mamasapano incident. Just like how he lied about his pork barrel and the illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program, he tried to wash his hands off the bloody incident in Mamasapano, but to no avail,” Elago said.