Press Release
January 24, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today dared Gen. Generoso Senga, chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to immediately order the arrest of identified conspirators behind a coup plot against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo if it really exists as he claims.

If Gen. Senga believes there is a coup plot, he should arrest all those involved, whether or not they are capable. Plotting a coup is a crime. I dare the government to act decisively or shut up, he said.

At the same time, Pimentel said the Arroyo administration and the AFP leadership may just be trying to put up a brave face by saying that the renegade junior military officers lack the capability to mount a coup and the AFP as a whole is loyal to the chain of command.

Pimentel said the Palace and AFP tap brass seem oblivious to the growing unrest in the military organization which may have lulled them into a false sense of security.

He said that if the 115,000-man AFP remain united and generally supportive of its commander-in-chief, President Arroyo, the daring jailbreak of four Magdalo officers who took part in the July 2003 Oakwood mutiny and an earlier escape of another rebel officer, Marine Capt. Nicanor Faeldon, would not have happened.

He cited a TV interview of one of the fugitive junior officers, Army 1st Lt. Lawrence San Juan, who confirmed the statement of the Young Officers Union of the Young Generations (YOUng) that they were able to bolt out of detention in Fort Bonifacio, a heavily-secured military camp, with the help of soldiers, including those who were tasked to guard them.

In other words, Gloria should feel worried and jolted because while the generals may still be supporting her, the junior officers may be harboring another view they share the sentiment of majority of Filipinos for the Presidents removal, Pimentel said.

Pimentel said that the President and AFP leadership in a show of arrogance, approved the promotions to very important posts of senior officers who were implicated in the 2004 electoral fraud in utmost disregard of the prevailing sentiments of the officers and men in the military organization.

The minority leader decried that the promotion of Lt. Gen. Gabriel Habacon as chief of the Southern Command and Rear Admiral Tirso Danga as chief of Western Command, two of the military officers involved in the Hello Garci tape scandal, was approved by the President without waiting for the result of the AFP investigation into their alleged militarys role in the election scam in Mindanao.

They were too much in a hurry to reward military officers who connived with them in rigging the election results and in ensuring Arroyos victory in the presidential contest. By doing so, they merely stoked the fire of unrest in the military ranks, Pimentel said.

Pimentel reiterated his belief that in order to deter restive soldiers from resorting to extra-constitutional means of changing the political leaders, President Arroyo should voluntarily resign to pave the way for a special election of a new president, who can effectively lead and unite the nation.

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