• Palace on coup rumors: All quiet on AFP front

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    MalacaÑang on Wednesday downplayed reports of a plan to oust President Benigno Aquino 3rd through a coup d’etat.

    In a news conference, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda cited an earlier statement by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) dismissing as false the supposed destabilization plot.

    “There is no such truth to the coup rumors,” Lacierda quoted AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala as saying.

    For a military rebellion to succeed, he said, it should be participated in by the active men and women of the AFP.

    The military’s rank-and-file, however, are not interested in the rumored destabilization plot since they recognize the Aquino administration’s efforts to improve the welfare of soldiers, Lacierda added.

    “We just want to affirm and to assure the public that there [is]no restiveness in the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he said.

    “The reason for the lack of interest is, I think, primarily the reforms that the Aquino administration has already implemented with respect to the Armed Forces.

    We have provided mission-essential equipment to the people on the ground,” Lacierda added.

    He said the Palace is not bothered by the possibility of those against the President joining calls for a destabilization move.

    “We are not concerned about it. Deadma [Dead malice],” according to Lacierda, saying a “loyalty check” among military members is not needed.

    According to media reports, Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th claimed that some retired AFP generals are plotting to oust the Aquino government.

    “Again, retired generals are now considered ordinary civilians and they are free to express the views of what they have,” Lacierda said.

    Trillanes, a former Navy officer was detained during the Arroyo administration for his involvement in the July 2003 Oakwood mutiny.

    He was also charged for the Manila Peninsula siege in November 2007.
    Meanwhile, Lacierda said the Palace respects Trillanes’ statements.

    “Senator Trillanes is free to express his opinion and we respect him for that. We respect his opinion,” he added.

    “Our responsibility again is to inform the public and to reassure the public that there is no restiveness within the military. That’s our primary role,” Lacierda said.

    The PNP also brushed off the alleged coup bid, with its chief information officer, Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, telling reporters in a news briefing that the coup issue is always in military in nature and the police will not tolerate it.

    Former coup plotters and former police generals-turned-lawmakers have shot down the reports of the planned coup d’etat against the President, saying such action lacks support from national security forces and the public.

    Ashley Acedillo, an ex-Air Force combat pilot, and Gary Alejano, an ex-Marine captain—now both congressmen representing Magdalo party-list—retired PNP general and now Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil, ex-brigadier general and now Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop and ex-PNP chief investigator and now Rep. Samuel Pagdilao of ACT-CIS party-list also on Wednesday said the plot is dead in the water.

    “You can’t stop the retired generals from talking to each other. But with President Aquino underscoring his administration’s support and attention to the military right with the pitch of Armed Forces modernization plan, a coup plot won’t prosper. We have heard that there are talks, but there’s no recruitment. A coup won’t take off,” Alejano told reporters.

    He participated in at least two failed coup tries during the Arroyo administration alongside Trillanes and Acedillo.

    “The former President [Arroyo] is not in the pink of health, but as to the health of her allies, it is a different matter. We have come across that information, but we are yet to ascertain the source. I would say a coup attempt really happening is far-fetched,” Acedillo said.

    Acop and Pagdilao raised doubts on the capacity of the former generals to mount a successful coup bid, since they are already out of military service and coup tries have failed since 1987.

    President Aquino’s late mother and also former President, Corazon Aquino, survived at least six coup attempts and Arroyo, two.

    “Experience would tell that making such action won’t succeed. They had seen it before, and many of those who took that path saw that they were not able to effect the change they wanted. Many of them are unemployed now. They have learned from that experience,” Acop, also a lawyer, said.

    “At this point, it would be very difficult [to launch a successful coup bid]because as a retired general, you don’t have forces. You don’t handle the troops anymore,” Pagdilao said.

    Acop said increased benefits and budget for the Philippine National Police (PNP) would make it hard for the coup plotters to recruit manpower for their bold move.

    He cited that the PNP’s capital outlay of P2 billion, significantly higher than the millions they had during his time in the organization.

    The former uniformed men, however, all agreed that the country’s intelligence units should verify such reports of a coup attempt.

    Military logistical movements were monitored on Wednesday, further fueling rumors about an impending coup try or military uprising against the Aquino administration.

    One movement emanated from the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) and another from the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), with both going to Philippine Army headquarters in Fort Andres Bonifacio, Taguig City (Metro Manila) and then to general headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

    Monitored coming from Solcom were at least five military trucks, escorted by an armored personnel vehicle (APC).

    Solcom and Nolcom are two of the unified commands of the AFP.

    AFP chief information officer Zagala confirmed the movements but quickly denied
    that they have something to do with the persistent coup rumors, saying they were “normal” logistical movements permitted by higher headquarters and concerned unified commands.

    “These movements are necessary for administrative and logistical support of our troops in the field. These are coordinated, especially here at the command center of the [AFP] and among unified commands,” he explained.

    But Zagala declined to disclose what equipment were transported, saying they were “critical items” thus they need to be escorted by an APC and several trucks of battled-ready soldiers.

    He also explained that the headquarters of the AFP’s three major services—Army, Navy and Air Force—are in Metro Manila and as such supplies and logistics emanates from Metro Manila.

    The supplies coming from the Solcom and Nolcom, Zagala said, were intended for the Army Support Command, which houses logistics and supplies for distribution to support units nationwide.

    Usually, he added, such movements are done at night.

    Zagala reiterated that the AFP is always ready for any eventuality, including coup attempts, but stressed that they have not monitored any movement or recruitment within the active service.

    WITH REPORTS FROM LLANESCA T. PANTI, WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL AND ANTHONY VARGAS

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