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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Rumor-Mongering

KICKING the President out at this time or forcing him to resign will only make things worse. For one thing, no one is prepared to take over. The Vice President certainly has not shown that he can do the job nor is he even perceived as having the leadership qualities and the moral sense that one expects of one who would lead this nation.

Thus, it is not surprising that the purported destabilization plot by certain groups to overthrow the Aquino administration in the wake of growing public outrage over the death of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos of the Philippine National Police in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last January 25 looks like it will go the way of exaggerated rumor-mongering.

Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr., and other leaders are confident that our police and military will not abandon their Commander-in-chief, President Aquino, and join the pending coup move revealed by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago at a Senate hearing last week.

“I think the AFP (Armed Forces of Philippines) and the PNP (Philippine National Police) still have faith in their commander-in-chief and are strongly rallying behind him despite the growing outrage over the Mamasapano incident,” said Speaker Belmonte.

Malacañang, the President’s Palace, has not done anything to beef us its defenses and Secretary Edwin Lacierda, the president’s spokesman, says that the Presidents is unfazed by protest actions calling for his resignation even as militant groups have staged protest actions calling on President Aquino to resign, blaming him for the death of the 44 SAF commandos in Maguindanao.

A group called EDSA Dos Bente Dos Coalition says that it will also conduct protests starting February 22.

Lacierda says that while the Palace respects protest actions, the public should await the results of the PNP Board of Inquiry investigation findings. “We are in the midst of an inquiry. We are in the midst of several inquiries. So while we respect their choice to express themselves in those manners, we will wait for the results of the Board of Inquiry, kasi kailangan naman talagang malaman ang katotohanan.” he said.

Magdalo party-list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo confirmed that there is a brewing coup against the President, but expressed confidence that it is will fail.

“Senator (Antonio) Trillanes IV and Congressman Gary Alejano have, based on information they received, alerted the government on the activities of certain groups opposed to the administration preparing for a seizure of power,” he said.

“One group set its plan into motion even before the Mamasapano massacre,” Acedillo said. “Now comes confirmation from the secretary of defense. Despite these, however, I do not believe that these groups will succeed.”

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin says that they are still verifying the coup plot report after Senator Santiago expressed alarm over intelligence reports that leaders of certain groups “with a financial backing from a very rich man” are seeking to overthrow the Aquino government.

(In fact, many businessmen are wondering who Senator Santiago’s “very rich man” could be. Could this be just a wild rumor?)

Senator Santiago believes that the DND should have stepped up efforts to “immediately arrest” the coup plotters and their financiers.

She says that despite her criticism of the President over the SAF 44 massacre, she is also “against the removal of President Aquino by any means except those that are legal.”

AKO Bicol party list Rep. Rodel Batocabe is right when he says that “no person in his right mind, no matter how rich, would finance destabilization moves that will adversely affect the economy and reduce the Philippines into a pariah of the international community.”

“While, we can not discount such rumors, I do believe that coup d’etats in the Philippines will never have the support of the people and global community,” he said.

But, 1-BAP party list Rep. Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III, who served as justice secretary during the Ramos administration warns:

“The success or failure of such coup depends on how the President handles the situation which has become very volatile. The nation wants justice now. I do hope the President has seen the handwriting on the wall,” he said.

Congressman Bello seems to be walking in step with Former President Ramos who has unlike former Presidents both in the US and the Philippines, kept their comments on the sitting president to themselves out of a sense of propriety.

***

Retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal calls for President Benigno Aquino III’s resignation following the Mamasapano clash between government forces and Muslim rebels. Vidal, as chairman of the National Transformation Council (NTC), urged Aquino to step down from office and calls for reforms in the system of government.

“We, bishops of the Catholic and other Christian Churches, have often been asked if there is moral basis to this growing demand. Even long before the unfortunate events, the National Transformation Council has strongly articulated that the President step down. Recent developments have made the call even more urgent and imperative,” he said.

Vidal’s view was supported by Bishop Ramon Villena, Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, Archbishop Romulo dela Cruz, Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla and Bishop Filomeno Bactol but not by the National Transformation Council (NTC). The NTC clarifies that they are not planning to be part of the alleged coup d’etat brewing against the President.

The NTC said they only encourage the public to stand united for change.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, for his part, said the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), has no plans of getting involved in any political activities.

***

The government is providing assistance for the bereaved families of the 44 SAF commandos. Aside from the monetary assistance coming from the President’s Social Fund, each of the families is extended support in terms of employment, education, health, and housing, among others.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) offers the families skills training programs, while the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is matching the skills of working-age individuals with available jobs. “There are members of certain families that have signified interest to undergo career-coaching from TESDA,” says Lacierda.

The government is also reaching out to the private sector to recommend the employment of relatives of the SAF troopers.

The National Police Commission (Napolcom) has an existing scholarship program that will provide grants for the children of the SAF troopers. For dependents who are in college or are of college-age, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will provide them assistance.

The Office of the Executive Secretary is recommending a mechanism to provide educational assistance to dependents not covered by the Napolcom or CHED programs through the President’s Social Fund.

Lacierda says that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has been speaking with families “to determine the best path for them.” As for livelihood assistance, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is studying the respective areas of residence of the families to see which businesses are feasible for them. The Department of Health (DOH) has been conducting diagnostic procedures on those who have requested medical assistance.

“The National Housing Authority (NHA) is assessing the families’ housing needs, and will submit reports at the soonest possible time.

“Upon the President’s orders, all available mechanisms of the national government are in motion to ensure the well-being of the families,” says Lacierda.

***

Should we give up on “peace” in Mindanao? Some hotheads in the legislature – both in the Senate and in the Lower House seem inclined to throw the Bangsmoro Basic Law out the window. Then, what? If we cannot have peace with our Muslim Filipinos. What, then, can we have?

I am getting too many unwanted text messages calling Muslim Filipinos insulting names. It’s like being back in the days when we still had the Moro wars that started with the Spanish conquistadors and continued during the time of the American colonizers. Surely, we can do better than the Spaniards and the Americans. We can have peace between Christians and Muslims. After all, we’re all Filipinos.

***

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- See more at: http://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/opinion/rumor-mongering#sthash.fBpJPxBN.dpuf

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