Group Solidarity for Sovereignty (S4S) holding a press conference calling for the resignation of President Benigno Aquino III in the wake of the Mamasapano clash which left 44 elite cops dead. Photo by Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News.
Former MILF spokesman supports the call
MANILA – More personalities have come forward to call for the resignation of President Benigno Aquino III in the wake of the Mamasapano clash.
In a press conference organized by the Solidarity for Sovereignty (S4S), several personalities such as Troy Abitona, uncle of fallen SAF Commando PO2 Efren Mejia, and former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) spokesman Eid Kabalu called for Aquino's resignation.
Also calling for Aquino's resignation are Fr. Eliseo Mercado, who was previously based in Maguindanao; Col. Generoso Mariano, a senior Marine officer who was discharged for appearing in a YouTube video in 2011 calling for a change in government; outspoken retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz; and Linda Montayre of the S4S.
EX-MARINE WANTS COUP
The assembly had harsh words for the President.
Perhaps the most aggressive words came from Mariano, the senior military officer who was discharged from service for appearing in a YouTube video in 2011 calling for a change in government.
Mariano was jailed for 2 years for charges of disrespecting the President. Mariano read excerpts from his online speech, and then called on uniformed personnel to withdraw support from Aquino.
"Nananawagan ako sa lahat ng makabayang kasundaluhan at kapulisan, bawiin na ang suporta sa Presidente. We deserve a better government," he said.
Archbishop Cruz, meanwhile, cited the provision of the 1987 Constitution on eligibility to run for the Presidency, where the main requirement is to be able to read and write.
"Wala ba dapat psych test?" the retired prelate asked, drawing applause and laughter form the crowd.
"The difficulty overriding us today is because it is rooted in this difficulty because of incompetence."
'ANTI-TERROR VS PEACE'
Fr. Eliseo Mercado, who lived in Maguindanao for 9 years, said Aquino should resign for supposedly putting American interests above the country's when he approved the operation against Marwan.
The operation has put into serious jeopardy the peace talks with the MILF, whose fighters engaged the SAF troopers during the January 25 operation.
"He prioritized the War on Terror instead of our peace process. He put US interest ahead of ours," said Mercado.
The priest also called for a full disclosure on the actual participation of the United States in the Mamasapano operation, saying it was the Aquino government who was helping the US disregard Philippine sovereignty.
Butch Valdez of Save the Nation group said the government was also discouraging relatives of the slain SAF commandos from talking to the media, even threatening to take away the promised aid for them.
"Totoo po, sinasabihan sila na huwag humarap sa media," confirmed Troy Abitona, uncle of PO2 Mejia.
Abitona said the families of the slain SAF troopers knew their loved ones' lives were always at risk, but he said Mejia died due to a bolo hack at the back of the neck.
He added his nephew's body was found far from his companions, presumably dragged, and with intestines removed. This is contrary to Interior Secretary Mar Roxas' declaration a day after the encounter that there was no mutilation of the bodies of the 44 SAF members.
"Hindi po yan kasama sa rules of war," said a choked up Abitona. Referring to Aquino, he said "Alam natin kung sino ang dapat managot. Hindi ko alam kung bakit hindi makita ng Senate kung sino ang may command responsibility."
MILF CONTROL OVER FIGHTERS
Eid Kabalu, a former spokesperson of the MILF, was asked whether the MILF still had control of the troops and communities on the ground.
Kabalu said it was better to leave the question to the MILF leadership. "Pero mahirap ding sabihin na may control pa rin talaga sila sa sitwasyon doon."
In the wake of the Mamasapano clash, lawmakers have become apprehensive of granting autonomous police powers to the proposed Bangsamoro region, as stated in the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.