Any attempt to oust President Rodrigo Duterte is bound to fail. Retired Gen. Dionisio Santiago, former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), declared this on Monday, citing the solid support being enjoyed by the Commander in Chief both by civilians and the men in uniform amid the noise of a …
Any attempt to oust President Rodrigo Duterte is bound to fail.
Retired Gen. Dionisio Santiago, former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), declared this on Monday, citing the solid support being enjoyed by the Commander in Chief both by civilians and the men in uniform amid the noise of a coup d’ etat leading to the celebration of the EDSA People Power anniversary.
“Whoever is thinking of plotting or planning a coup d’etat should really think twice. It’s like going against a solid concrete wall,” said Santiago, who have fought coup plotters against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Recently, calls to rise against the Duterte administration are being floated on social media amid issues about the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States, the spread of the dreaded coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid 2019), press freedom in view of the questioned ABS-CBN franchise, the arrest order against former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, the continued detention of Sen. Leila de Lima, and many other issues hounding the presidency.
The oust call also coincided with the upcoming anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolt.
A group called “Bunyog,” allegedly led by a certain Ricky Tomotorgo, who his followers claim uses the alias Enzo Recto (insurrecto), is among those calling for the ouster of Mr. Duterte.
The group is also allegedly using social media to solicit funding for the move slated on 22 February — the first day of the 1986 EDSA revolution.
On the other hand, Tindig Pilipinas, which is identified with the political opposition and the liberals, is set to celebrate EDSA People Power on 25 February in a totally unrelated event to that of “Bunyog.”
Santiago, who last served as Dangerous Drugs Board chairman under the Duterte administration, claimed that nobody from the uniformed service will join any move against the Commander in Chief.
He stressed that no other president except for Mr. Duterte gave so much importance to the welfare of the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Apart from this, Santiago cited the more than 80 percent approval rating being enjoyed by Mr. Duterte as shown by latest surveys.
Santiago stressed that the current issues being raised against the administration are not enough to entice people to go against the government.
Once a commanding general of the Philippine Army and chief of the AFP’s anti-coup Task Force Libra, Santiago earned the moniker “Defender of Malacañang” after he led government forces in foiling an attempt by rabid supporters of ousted President Joseph Estrada to overrun the Palace in 2001.
PNP blasts Robredo
Meanwhile, PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa on Monday refuted claims made by Vice President Leni Robredo that there is an attempt to whitewash the controversy surrounding the 357 policemen included in the illegal drugs watchlist.
In a press briefing in Camp Crame, Gamboa branded Robredo’s claim as false and baseless.
“Wrong statement because there is no basis. We will conduct adjudication. Why would she say we’re protecting them?” asked Gamboa.
“Had we intended to protect them, why did we bare that there are 357 (policemen in the list)? That’s the last argument I am going to make with that statement,” he added.
Robredo on Sunday cautioned that the public’s trust and confidence in the PNP may again erode due to the alleged attempts to cover up police officers tagged in the narcotics trade.
Gamboa insisted that adjudication proceedings of those in the list are now ongoing which were preceded by internal disciplinary mechanisms.
“I would like to emphasize that all 357 personnel concerned are presumed innocent until the requirements of due process are completely satisfied. I beg your kind indulgence that the PNP needs to keep the identities of these personnel confidential incidental to their presumption of innocence,” he stressed.
Gamboa gave the PNP Adjudication Board, headed by Deputy Chief for Administration, PLt. Gen. Camilo Cascolan, one month to finish its evaluation and validation of information of the said personnel.
Once the process is done, the PNP will then submit its report to Malacañang.
The PNP chief bared that of the 357 cops, 43 have gone AWOL, 15 applied for early retirement and one was already confirmed dead.
“We are going to process them, adjudicate and validate the information that they are involved and hopefully those who are innocent may clear their names, but those who are not may face the full force of the law,” Gamboa said.
“It should be understood, however, that even if they avail of my offer for early retirement, it does not extinguish their culpability as determined by the investigation,” he pointed out.
with Kristina Maralit, Francis T.Wakefield
and Alvin Murcia @tribunephl_FTW
Published on February 18, 2020
By Pat C. Santos