Manila – Several likely coup leaders within the Philippine military have had their wings clipped – making a military-led takeover even more remote than ever, Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff, Lt-Gen Edilberto Adan told The Manila Times.
"We've already relieved those officers who have issued statements against the institution, and sanction awaits those who are planning to do the same," Lt-Gen Adan said at a roundtable with reporters and editors of The Manila Times.
For example, Colonel Ricardo Morales, commander of the 404th Infantry Brigade based in Mawa, Compostela Valley, was among the first to be relieved for allegedly circulating an e-mail message on the Internet calling on his classmates at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to overthrow the government.
"As a responsible senior officer, he should have been aware that such statements could be misconstrued and subject to misinterpretations," Lt-Gen Adan said.
Another officer, Major Jason Aquino, was relieved as operations chief of the First Scout Ranger Regiment based in Nueva Ecija after being found to be the source of anti-government pamphlets, titled A New Order, that were being distributed among soldiers.
Lt-Gen Adan said: "We've learned that if the military is prone to taking a partisan stand, we also in the long run implant a virus in the officer corps that we can intervene and take sides, and that isn't good for the institution and the country."
In another development, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director-General Arturo Lomibao, said his men are closely monitoring the leftist movement, especially the New People's Army, because it might try to take advantage of the ongoing political tensions.
A police intelligence officer in Camp Crame said that several left-leaning militant groups are now being closely watched since they could create trouble during President Gloria Arroyo's State of the Nation address.
"We are monitoring these groups since we have reports that their ranks have been infiltrated by armed elements of the NPA," he added.
He hinted that these groups are capable of repeating the July 15 incident, when a group of militant farmers and fishermen stormed the offices of the Agriculture and Agrarian Reform departments. At least 15 people were hurt in the incident.
* AFP cuffs emerging leaders of coup (The Manila Times, July 20)
* Opposition-Left link won’t work (The Manila Times, July 20)