MANILA - When President Aquino delivered his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, he may have already implied a destabilization plot or a threat to his life.
“Alam po ni Vice President na noong 1987, nagkasama kami, may kudeta, na-ambush po tayo doon, at tapos noon ay pangalawang buhay ko na po ito. Hindi natin maiiwasang mag-isip sa mga binubunggo natin, may araw kayang pagsampa ng entablado ay ito na ba huling araw, may magtatagumpay bang maglagay ng bomba; magtatagumpay ba iyong mga maiitim na balak ng atin pong mga katunggaling gusto tayong ibalik sa maling kalakalan,” he said.
Malacanang claimed this was one of the unscripted portions of the SONA.
A day after his speech, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV revealed an alleged destabilization plot led by retired military generals close to former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo – Aquino’s 67-year-old detained and ailing predecessor.
In a text message, former First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo told ABS-CBN News, “he (Trillanes) is trying to be in the media because he’s running… He must be joking. No truth to that.
Papatulan pa ba iyang imbentong iyan? PGMA is detained. How can she plot? He was the one who plotted against GMA before.”
Trillanes led the 2003 Oakwood mutiny against Arroyo.
Arroyo lawyer Ferdinand Topacio added, “Senator Trillanes does not have any idea of what he is talking about. He does not know the first thing about a coup d’etat. The so-called coups he planned and participated in were lousy and ended miserably for him with his tail between his legs. He does not know whereof he speaks.”
‘Destabilization moves should be preempted’
Trillanes’ fellow coup plotter, now Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, said talks of destabilization plots are better discussed publicly to preempt them.
“Based on the present situation, mahirap mag-take off… Lahat tayo may karapatan maglabas ng hinaing. Sabi ko nga di iyan pinag-uusapan in the open kung may ganung usapan. Kung may naaamoy, magandang inilalabas `yan para ma-preempt.”
He believes any plot against the president won’t succeed.
Nonetheless, they are keeping an eye on the uniformed services, with focus on whether their gripes are being addressed or not.
Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil shared his view. “Mino-monitor na natin ang interchanges sa radio. Palagay natin nararapat lang na bigyang linaw natin ang haka-hakang ito.”
Another Magdalo Party-list lawmaker, Ashley Acedillo, said the information about the alleged plot has yet to be verified.
“If indeed there are such plans, it is incumbent on security and intelligence agencies to verify that.”
He said this is still a developing issue.
Asked if Arroyo may be a suspect, Acedillo said, “You’re correct on the status of her health, but the health of her allies and their intentions, that’s another matter.”
‘Clout of retired generals fading’
Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop, a former police general, believes that the clout of retired generals fades in time.
“Why don’t we just let retired generals just fade away. Being retired, my clout has diminished. Ibang-iba na ang sitwasyon ng uniformed services,” he said.
Malacanang has persistently denied talks of a coup d’etat days before the SONA.
Acedillo said the complaints have been discussed by lawmakers in passing.
“Napag-uusapan po iyan at based on initial responses to the questions pertaining to the performance of the president, by and large, despite the gaps and shortcomings we still believe in the president and in the administration,” he said.
The coup rumors came on the heels of Aquino’s declining popularity ratings. Several impeachment cases were also filed against him over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
On Tuesday, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. expressed doubts that Aquino will be impeached over the DAP.
The DAP came into public consciousness when Senator Jinggoy Estrada revealed that it was used as a reward for the lawmakers who voted to impeach and eventually oust Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The Philippines is no stranger to military uprisings.
There were nine unsuccessful military uprisings during the term of President Corazon Aquino.
Military officers led by the late Angelo Reyes withdrew their support for former President Joseph Estrada in 2001 amid his impeachment trial on corruption charges.
Arroyo also faced destabilization plots during the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny and the 2006 Fort Bonifacio standoff.