Friday, February 13, 2015

PHILIPPINES ‘Coup plot for real’


Senior official says ‘old names and faces’ involved
A senior Cabinet member has confirmed the Palace is aware of a coup plot against President Benigno Aquino 3rd and is taking serious measures to thwart it.

Quick to react against the threat, the official on Friday said Malacañang has begun monitoring movements of certain groups and personalities who are allegedly behind the move to oust the President through a power grab.

The official, a member of Aquino’s official family who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Manila Times that teams have been sent out to check on activities of the alleged coup plotters, pointing out that Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago revealing a brewing government takeover during a recent hearing on the Mamasapano massacre, indeed, has bearing.

“We have the reports [on the coup plot] and we are now monitoring them [‘plotters’]. Everything is undergoing verification,” said the source.

Pressed to give a clue on who the alleged plotters are, the official, who holds a key position in the Aquino administration, refused, explaining that it may jeopardize their ongoing probe.

“What I can tell you is that it is composed of the same names and faces,” the senior Cabinet member said.

In Malacañang, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said there is still no serious risk facing the Aquino government, adding that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) remain loyal to their sworn duty.

“Our security situation is in order. [The AFP and PNP] have both expressed that they continue to focus on the overall security situation,” Coloma told a news briefing.

“The determination of the [AFP and PNP] to do their duties under the Constitution remains intact. The PNP has declared, ‘We are a professional organization and we are loyal to the flag and the Republic.’ That’s why we are not anxious about it,” the Palace official said.

The Times source, meanwhile, said like in the past, such extra-constitutional means to grab power cannot succeed without the support of the Armed Forces.

“I doubt if they can muster enough support,” the official added.

In a separate interview, PNP spokesman and Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr., said they are yet to receive any report or information about a coup that was previously bared by Santiago, who claimed that a “moneyed” individual whose name had been involved in such “cottage industry” is bankrolling the move to depose Aquino.

Santiago made the disclosure during a Senate hearing this week on the Mamasapano encounter in Maguindanao that resulted in the brutal killing of 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF).

But Cerbo, contrary to claims made by The Manila Times source, said they have not monitored any untoward movement by the “usual suspects.”

“There’s none . . . we have not received any report or information about a coup plot,” he added.

But Cerbo, in an earlier interview, said PNP intelligence units are continuously checking reports of the alleged coup plot against the President as a result of the “fallout” from the Mamasapano carnage.

“The investigation being conducted is very wide… and if there is [a coup plot], we will see and feel it immediately… and the PNP will always be ready against it,” he also told reporters.

Another source from the police intelligence community also claimed that no such plot exists.

The officer described it as “loose talk.”

“Wala naman kaming namo-monitor . . . baka loose talk lang yan. If there is [a coup plot] I will quickly inform you about it,” he told The Times.

Cerbo said the coup “rumors” began swirling after the January 25 Maguindanao clash.

“These [coup talks] are merely rumors… but I had to admit [that] the PNP is hurting over the Mamasapano incident,” the PNP spokesman added.

At least 44 members of the SAF were brutally killed by Muslim separatist rebels in the clash.

The police commandos were part of a covert operation to get Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, who died in the firefight.

“As what OIC [Officer-in-Charge] Gen. Leonardo Espina of the PNP] and (Department of the Interior and Local Government) Secretary (Manuel Roxas 2nd) said, the PNP will always remain loyal,” Cerbo said. by JOEL M. SY EGCO SENIOR REPORTER AND ANTHONY VARGAS CORRESPONDENT



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