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Solcom chief warns coup movers

MANILA, Philippines–The highest military official in Southern Luzon has ordered the arrest of anyone attempting to recruit soldiers to join a coup d’etat against President Aquino.

Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, commander of the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom), issued the order to his ground commanders following reports of brewing destabilization plots over the reported disenchantment in the military and the police over the government’s mishandling of the Jan. 25 operation to take out an international terrorist that resulted in the massacre of 44 Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) troopers in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

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Visaya commands the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division based in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal, considered as the military’s primary anticoup strike force because of its proximity to the capital.

But Visaya said he was confident that no one from his command would join any coup move.

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He also dismissed reports about a planned coup or recruitment of coup participants, insisting that no such report has ever reached his command.

‘We’re solid’

“We are solid here… that (coup reports) is nothing,” said Visaya, dismissing the reports as “plain rumor.”

The men in uniform in the Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions are solidly behind the leadership of President Aquino and no destabilization activities will happen against his administration, he said.

“The morale of our men in Solcom remains high,” Visaya said in a speech before the military and police in Quezon province at a ceremonial declaration of unity held in Camp Nakar, Lucena City, yesterday.

Visaya said Aquino has done so much for the betterment of the police and the military. “We will continue to be strongly and solidly behind him,” he said.

He said there were some, especially those who were against the Aquino administration, who want to divide the men in uniform, and drive a wedge between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP.

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To show their strong ties, Visaya and Senior Supt. Ronaldo Genaro Ylagan, the Quezon province police chief, led soldiers and policemen in a ceremonial show of unity on Wednesday.

Fatigue-clad Army soldiers and policemen in their blue uniform locked arms in front of the Philippine flag at the grandstand in Camp Nakar.

Civilian employees from the military and police headquarters also joined in showing their support for peace.

After the event, the military and policemen shared lunch “boodle-fight” style.

‘Brotherhood is intact’

Ylagan said the police and the military would forever remain strong partners in promoting peace, while Visaya said no incident would destroy the good working relationship between the military and police in Southern Luzon.

“The brotherhood is intact,” Viasay said.

Visaya stressed that even if the 44 police commandos were all “brutally slaughtered” in the Mamasapano encounter, “our desire to keep peace will remain.”

Some soldiers and policemen interviewed by the Inquirer admitted that there was “restiveness” among the men in uniform but not enough reason for them to join a coup.

But they had their gripes against the President.

“President Aquino as our Commander in Chief should have displayed more firmness in dealing with Muslim rebels after Mamasapano. But he is too soft with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front),” said a soldier who requested anonymity.

“What we need is a strong leadership, especially in times of crisis,” said one policeman.

But Aquino’s inept handling of the Mamasapano incident does not justify a putsch or any destabilization activity, they said.

They said that those against the Aquino administration should just focus their attention on the coming 2016 presidential election and support a candidate that they would want to replace the President.

The coup plotters are reportedly taking advantage of the public outrage over the brutal slaying of the 44 SAF commandos in the hands of Muslim rebels.

The public rage is also reportedly being fueled by Aquino’s perceived mishandling of the Mamasapano incident that has also caused an apparent rift between the police and the military.

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TAGS: Military, Police, Ricardo Visaya, SOLCOM, Southern Luzon Command
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