Gonzales: Aquino should resign but no to coup d’ etat
MANILA, Philippines — While he is part of a group calling for President Benigno Aquino III to step down from his post, former national security adviser and defense secretary Norberto Gonzales insists they are not behind a plot to oust the President through a coup d’ etat.
Gonzales, in a forum in Manila Tuesday, denied that he has been planning a coup d’etat with groups determined to oust the President.
“I will not engage in a coup and I will never support a coup because that is against my personal principle,” he said. “Coups don’t succeed in the Philippines. There have been many attempts in the past but these were unsuccessful. And when a coup fails, it creates more division.”
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV earlier accused Gonzales of being among those planning to overthrow the Aquino government in the face of public outrage on the authorities’ handling of the operation to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” that resulted in the massacre of 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force by Moro rebels.
However, Gonzales also admitted that he knew of people who have been scheming to remove the President.
“May mga nag-iisip, may mga naghahanda, mga dalawa o tatlo [grupo] (There are two or three groups thinking and preparing). These are the usual suspects,” Gonzales said but he refused to name names.
“Halos lahat nag-uusap. Napakaraming bulong-bulongan ngayon. Meeting meeting sa lahat (Many have been talking to each other. Many have been meeting in secret),” he added.
Gonzales hinted that among those seriously planning a coup d’ etat could be within President Aquino’s own circle of friends to make his stay in power longer.
“The President should watch his back. But who knows, he himself might be involved,” Gonzales said, adding when asked what he meant: “How do you extend your term? During the time of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, I was the one being blamed, remember?”
“Once you are in power, how [will you] sustain it? I was there, you know. It was very tempting,” he explained.
“I am a retired person, I only do analysis. Now and then I check, but if you look at analysis and potentials … ang nagaplano ng coup hindi lang sa labas, pwede din ang plano galing sa loob (The ones who are planning the coup are not only outsiders; there could be insiders too),” Gonzales said.
Gonzalez admitted his membership in the National Transformation Council (NTC), which, along with religious leaders, has called for President Aquino to step down and let a council to take over the country instead.
He said the National Transformation Council has been making the call for several years now amid questions about the country’s electoral system.
In its website, the NTC defines itself as “an ecumenical and interfaith collective that works for the common good of Philippine society through rapid and comprehensive systems of change.”
Gonzalez expressed his support for the bishops, both Catholic and Protestant, who have been calling for a new government.
At least five Catholic bishops have called on President Aquino to “step down” because they believe he is no longer fit for the presidency.
The five bishops are Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, Archbishop Romulo Tolentino de la Cruz of Zamboanga, Archbishop Ramon Villena of Bayombong, Archbishop Filomeno Bactol of Naval and Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla of Davao.
“We want him to step down,” Arguelles said during the same forum. The prelate clarified, however, that they also want other government officials to step down to clean up the government.
“Not only President Aquino. Lahat ng guilty, lahat ng sumira ng bayan, lahat ng may bahid (All those who are guilty, all those who have contributed to the destruction of the country, all those who have been stained). Let us elect another set of leaders,” Arguelles said.
Arguelles also assured the public that their group would not support a coup d’etat to oust the government.
“We are not ousting. We want them to step down. We are not for violent change nor for a military takeover,” he added.
Gonzales said that while the possibility of a military coup happening “is very low,” he did not see another “people power” as far-fetched.
“A people power is not planned, it just happens. I think a people power will happen … soon,” he said.
“Before the Mamasapano incident, nobody wants PNoy out, but things changed after the incident. Some people were saying the ony problem is who will replace him. Let’s wait for one or two more blunders from Malacañang, maybe [people power] will already happen,” he said.
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