Lim retells it like it was: Esperon, Senga in ’06 plot
By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Now it can be told—again. This time straight from the horse’s mouth as it were.
Detained Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, a candidate for senator, on Friday claimed that the then Armed Forces Chief Gen. Generoso Senga and Army Chief Lt. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. were his accomplices in the failed February 2006 coup plot.
Lim, who appeared to be acknowledging for the first time his leadership role in the Feb. 23, 2006, coup plot, claimed that Senga and Esperon had betrayed him and his fellow plotters for what he described as “political enticements” from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“These people are turncoats and rabid opportunists. During that particular moment they were convinced of the idea that Mrs. Arroyo must be forced out by a nonviolent revolt by the military and the people, then all of a sudden they defected to the evil they supposedly despise, thus, becoming the very same malevolence the people loathe,” Lim said in a statement.
Lim claimed that Esperon not only said “okay” to the idea but also said that “it would be better to work this out for at least for five days so it’s smooth.”
Senga and Esperon, however, ultimately withdrew support for the planned uprising which led to its failure, he said.
Real democracy defenders
“I am divulging this not as an attempt at politicking. Rather, I have come out to make a clean slate of the events of 2006 as a simple reminder to Mrs. Arroyo and her loyalists that we, the real defenders of democracy, know the truth and are acting on it,” Lim said.
Esperon on Friday denied Lim’s claim that he and Senga had agreed to withdraw support from the President at the height of the coup that Lim had allegedly instigated in February 2006.
Esperon said that Lim was making up stories and that it was obvious the latter was just out to “gain public attention” because he was running for senator.
“That statement is coming from a defeated coup plotter and the mere fact that they were held by General Senga indicated how poorly they had planned their moves and that they did not have the forces with them,” Esperon said in a phone interview.
Esperon is also a candidate in the May polls, running for representative of the 6th district of Pangasinan.
Out to get info
Recalling the events of Feb. 23, 2006, Esperon said Lim had asked for the Army’s support in his group’s bid to oust Ms Arroyo. He said he rejected the request “because I do not believe in soldiers getting the power to govern out of the barrel of the gun.”
He said he asked Lim to give him more details of his plans. When he said they needed five days for the hatching of the plot, it was to taunt Lim, he said.
He never went along with Lim’s plans and only meant to squeeze information out of him, he said.
He said they were all at Camp Aguinaldo military headquarters in Quezon City from 6 a.m. to until 1 a.m.
At around 3 a.m., Lim, who had by then returned to his house in Fort Bonifacio, called him up to ask that he be taken under his custody to “save face,” Esperon said.
Esperon said he rejected Lim’s request and it was Senga who eventually took custody of the general.
Senga, who is now ambassador to Iran, could not be reached for comment.
‘Most destructive force’
Lim, who is on trial for a number of coup cases, was the defiant Army captain who led the bunch of fully armed rebel Army Rangers that occupied the Ayala commercial center for a week during the December 1989 coup, the bloodiest against President Cory Aquino.
He is now a guest candidate in the Liberal Party senatorial slate of Cory’s son, Sen. Benigno Aquino III.
Lim described Ms Arroyo as the “single most destructive force in the Philippines.”
He expressed alarm over “troubling events that clearly paves the way for massive cheating if not a total failure of the entire election.”
“We must go back to the original sin. She cheated in the 2004 elections. She lied. She covered it up and she paid others to lie for and on her behalf,” he said.
He said Ms Arroyo’s cheating machine was back and must be stopped.
“We give Mrs. Arroyo and her cabal of fraudsters a final ultimatum, respect the elections or prepare for rebellion,” he said.