National Transformation Council: We are not planning a coup
LIPA CITY, Philippines – A day after the anniversary of the 1986 People Power Revolution, a group demanding the resignation of President Benigno Aquino III denied plotting a military uprising to force the president out of office.
The National Transformation Council (NTC), which described itself as “collegial body” driven by a common sentiment, said its demand for Aquino to step down and for him to be replaced by an “interim” government should not be achieved by means of a coup d’ etat.
“We are not planning a coup. The Armed Forces should not lead the fight to change government … if they see that the people are truly asking for regime change, then they must protect and support that,” said former Defense Chief Norberto Gonzales, a founding member of NTC.
“We have not approached the Armed Forces to come out in the streets and declare they are supporting NTC. I think there’s time for that,” he added.
The NTC, which has been openly calling for Aquino to step down since August 2014, again came at the forefront of the campaign after the January 25 Mamasapano carnage that claimed the lives of 44 Special Action Force commandos, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels and five civilians.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima earlier warned the NTC against committing “a proposal or conspiracy to commit the crime of coup d’etat” and to keep the group’s sentiments within its bounds.
In a press conference Thursday, Gonzales said they have been pushing for a hybrid electoral system.
The NTC, he said, would also hold a national congress in every region where leaders representing the country’s “poorest sectors” – labor, peasant, urban poor, fisher folks, would be chosen to sit as part of the transformation council.
“What we’re trying to do today is to try to define who among our people will lead this effort … Give a new shape to people power (as it) can’t be as spontaneous as before,” Gonzales said.
He said the NTC would also like to “revive” the mass movement and peoples’ organizations to ensure that the poor would have a place once the transition government is over.
“You may think this is a long process but I think it can be done in a matter of months,” Gonzales said.
Aside from Gonzales, also present at the NTC’s gathering at the St. Francis de Sales Minor Seminary gymnasium of Lipa were former Senator Francisco Tatad, former Chief Justice Renato Corona, and religious leaders that included Catholic Archbishops Fernando Capalla of Davao and Ramon Arguelles of Lipa.
The event was attended by about 2,000 NTC supporters who joined the community singing of “Bayan Ko” towards the end of the program.
Asked by reporters about their affiliations to the former Arroyo administration, Gonzales called such observation as “judgmental.”
“I wanted to help … so be it,” Gonzales said.
On Arroyo, he said, “marami s’yang pagkakamali, marami s’yang pagkukulang (She made a lot of mistakes and has many shortcomings) but I will prefer her many times over this president (Aquino).”
According to NTC, establishing an interim council is an answer to a constitution that already lost its moral logic after Aquino committed constitutional violations, among them the issue on the Disbursement Acceleration Program. “The constitution is no longer working. The moral logic is no longer there, ”Tatad said.
Corona, meanwhile, who was impeached by the Senate, on the instigation of President Aquino, due to an incomplete statement of assets, liabilities and net worth, said a “constitutional convention” should be organized “to put all these reforms in place.”
Former Biliran Representative Glenn Chong, who has been campaigning against the precinct count optical scan voting machines for allegedly rigging the elections in 2010 and 2013, said he did not consider the NTC’s actions as unprecedented as the same happened after the 1986 and 2001 uprisings that paved the way for a new administration.
Since the group has no armed component, nor its members are public service employees, they cannot be charged with rebellion or plotting a coup as “threatened” by De Lima.
“She’s accusing us of gutter politics, my answer to her: ‘a pathetic political baloney,” Chong said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.