MANILA, Philippines?A group, composed of a motley sprinkling of former opponents as well as allies of ex-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is styling itself as an anti-Aquino opposition, according to sources in the intelligence community.
The group is watching closely the ?plunging? ratings of President Benigno Aquino III, and once disenchantment sets in, ?they can step in,? the sources said.
?The group purports to be a sort of opposition group against the Aquino government, which they consider as too close to the United States government,? the sources said.
The group is out to ?destabilize? the Aquino government but ?not necessarily? through violent means, one source said.
The group, which calls itself the Solidarity for Sovereignty (S4), took out a full-page advertisement in the Philippine Daily Inquirer last Tuesday, and declared a vacancy in all elective positions because of the ?unconstitutionality? of the May 10 elections.
It called on the Armed Forces to ?fulfill its constitutional mandate? and immediately support the group in making sovereignty ?a full reality in our country.?
The group said the May 10 elections, which brought President Aquino to power, was unconstitutional because it was administered by a foreign corporation, the Smartmatic-TIM, resulting in ?a digital president all the way to the last mayor.?
S4 also said the recent Quirino Grandstand hostage-taking and botched rescue showed ?the extreme incompetence of the present leadership.?
The group said the Supreme Court plagiarism issue was an act of ?dishonesty? that weakened the country?s sovereignty and called on the high-court justices to make the ?extreme sacrifice of resignation to restore decency and integrity in the Supreme Court.?
It claimed that a $434 million grant from the United States came ?with strings attached, one of which was the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill,? again an infringement of Philippine sovereignty.
Among those who signed the manifesto were Linda Montayre, a known supporter of former President Fidel Ramos and a critic of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; Allan Paguia, a disbarred lawyer who defended deposed President Joseph Estrada and who distributed tapes of the ?Hello Garci? scandal that implicated Arroyo in election fraud; and ?members of the AFP.?
But according to intelligence sources, there was one very important name that did not appear in the list of signatories?Norberto Gonzales, Arroyo?s former defense secretary and national security adviser.
?There are around 30 convenors, and he (Gonzales) is one of them,? the sources said.
The sources said the S4 has been touching base with disgruntled military officers like Rear Adm. Feliciano Angue, who was relieved as chief of the AFP?s National Capital Region Command (NCRComm) after he exposed alleged politicking by senior military officers during the May 10 elections.
The source also said Gonzales and Montayre had met with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari a few weeks ago.
?They met about the resumption of the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which could marginalize Misuari and his MNLF in a new Bangsa Moro state,? one source said.
At the height of the ?jueteng? controversy about two weeks ago, retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz said there were three groups out to destabilize the Aquino government. One of these was a supposed shadow government with links to Gonzales.
Following the May elections, Gonzales said he was forming a ?shadow Cabinet? that would lay down alternative programs and policies to the incoming Aquino administration as well as investigate alleged poll fraud claims in the May 10 polls.
He claimed to have sent out invitations to former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, who lost to Mr. Aquino last May, and Gen. Delfin Bangit, who took early retirement after Mr. Aquino refused to honor his appointment as AFP chief by Arroyo.