The reassurance by Central Command (Centcom) that they will not heed rumblings within military circles of a coup d’ etat against their sitting commander-in-chief President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for castigating the military rather than pursuing all-out-war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) isn’t news.
What can be considered news is their expression of sympathy for their 19 fallen comrades in arms who were killed by suspected MILF rebels in southern Mindanao which is shared by most Filipinos in Luzon and the Visayas, far away from the conflict zone.
These same Filipinos are also picking up on the clamor by officials, some of whom have never been even to Mindanao, for the national government to wage war on the MILF rebels for the murder of the 19 soldiers.
With the President’s adamant refusal to wage war and instead pursue “all out justice” the rumblings of another coup d’ etat began to surface albeit with more fuel to the fire this time around being fed by people supposedly aligned with the former president, who still has her own sympathetic generals in her fold.
The coup d’ etat talks aren’t to be taken lightly; that former general Danilo Lim issued a call to the military rank and file “not to be seduced” by the call to join a mutiny, however ill-advised it is owing to the President’s strong popularity, points to how determined and how influential these movers and shakers remain in their quest to reclaim power.
Former mutineer now Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV put it aptly when he said that while the Aquino administration may be right in rejecting the military’s call for all-out-war, the President should have handled the confrontation with top military officials differently—that is, he should have talked with them at headquarters and not given them a public dressing down.
The same thing happened with then former defense secretary Orlando Mercado, when he chided some top officials in front of their men. Generals, for all their inaction on and possible complicity in the prevalence of graft and corruption within the military hierarchy, still are entitled to some respect at least in front of their troops.
Still the President, having seen how his own mother the late president Corazon Aquino face down several coup attempts in her time, isn’t one to mince words when he castigated the generals for their failure to protect their own troops, even sending soldiers who don’t have much battle experience into the meat grinder that is Basilan province.
It is these costly mistakes that troops like the Central Command assigned in Central Visayas have to live with, since most of them may be shipped out of their area and into the battle zone. We in Cebu who live far away from the conflict zones of Mindanao, could only commiserate and hope that the need doesn’t arise for them to be moved out of the region.