MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers yesterday downplayed the claims of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV of a coup plot against President Aquino, saying it was nothing but "a barber's tale."
Muntinlupa City Rep. Rodolfo Biazon led other lawmakers from the Magdalo party-list group in dismissing the claims of a coup plot because there is no reason to stage a power grab against the President.
Biazon said Trillanes could have been a victim of a bum steer.
“This is just a figment of imagination, ideas being floated around, barbershop talk or maybe somebody just got a bum steer,” he said.
Biazon, the former Armed Forces chief who served under the late President Corazon Aquino, said he checked out the reports with active and retired military officers, who dismissed the alleged power grab claimed by Trillanes and hinted at by the President himself during his State of the Nation Address last Monday.
“Nothing. Especially in the active service, there’s no such thing because there’s no reason to stage a coup,” Biazon said in a radio interview.
Trillanes claimed that some retired generals associated with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are plotting against the Aquino administration.
Trillanes was quoted as saying that former generals are meeting with active military officers to convince them to destabilize the government.
Trillanes, one of the leaders of a failed military revolt against Arroyo, did not identify the generals.
Trillanes shrugged off criticism that his report on the coup plots had no basis or was plain hearsay.
He said he stands by his report, but he did not reveal the source of his information to avoid jeopardizing his sources.
Trillanes, however, stressed such attempts to topple the Aquino administration will not succeed at this point.
Retired Armed Forces chief Hermogenes Esperon described Trillanes as the proverbial “boy who cried wolf,” and an “instant expert” in leading the soldiers.
Esperon challenged the senator to just explain where he used his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds instead of spreading stories about coup plots.
“It seems that his information was lacking. I think this is what they call the boy who cried wolf. In the morning, he killed the wolf and he became the hero the next day,” Esperon said.
Biazon said it was normal that retired generals meet over coffee occasionally and express their views or sentiments against the government.
“It can’t be helped that national issues are being discussed, but do they have the intention to stage a coup? None. And even if they do, no one will follow them,” he said.
Biazon said Aquino remains popular with Filipinos so any coup plot will not come to fruition.
Magdalo Reps. Ashley Acedillo and Gary Alejano, who also figured with Trillanes in the Oakwood mutiny in 2003, renewed their support for Aquino.
They also downplayed the rumors but stressed there was nothing wrong in preparing for such a possibility.
“There appears to be some talk, and that’s how plans and movements start, but based on the present situation, it’s hard for that to take off,” Alejano said.
“We all have gripes and as I’ve said, if there are such talks, it’s better that it be out in the open so it can be preempted.”
Acedillo said there is difficulty in confirming the reports but intelligence agencies should work hard to verify them.
“I’m not privy to where the President got his information… but this is not a matter to be trifled with,” Acedillo said, referring to Aquino’s hint during his SONA. –Delon Porcalla, Alexis Romero, Christina Mendez, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Perseus Echeminada