Hermogenes Esperon

Lim retells it like it was: Esperon, Senga in ’06 plot

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.”

Final ultimatum

“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.

GMA to party mates: Let's stick together

GMA to party mates: Let’s stick together
By Paolo Romero
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – President Arroyo directed yesterday her party mates to “stick together” and ensure the victory of administration presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro and the Lakas-Kampi-CMD with the elections just three weeks away.

Mrs. Arroyo gave the orders during a closed-door meeting of some 120 administration congressional candidates and top Lakas-Kampi officials at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City.

Mrs. Arroyo is president emeritus of the party.

The President arrived at around 2 p.m., shortly after Teodoro left to lead a campaign sortie in Antipolo City.

“As your President, I think I have given you good performance in the last nine years. I hope we will continue this. Let us unite so we can have continued growth,” presidential adviser for political affairs Prospero Pichay quoted Mrs. Arroyo as saying during her 30-minute meeting with the lawmakers.

“Gibo Teodoro understands the economic problems of our country. Let us unite and stick together and make Gibo win on May 10,” she said.

Pichay said Mrs. Arroyo wanted to ensure that Lakas-Kampi remains as the dominant party.

However, there was no mention of the recent high-profile defections from the party, Lakas-Kampi president Francis Manglapus said in a news briefing.

Pichay said those who attended were part of the 160 administration congressmen or half of the membership of the House of Representatives solidly backing Teodoro.

He said the party was expecting a “10 percent fatality” or defections but less than one percent left.

Former Presidential Management Staff director general Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who is running in Pangasinan’s 6th district, said Mrs. Arroyo was upbeat.

Many congressional candidates took the floor and told the President that they will not abandon Teodoro, Manglapus said.

“We are firmly convinced that he has the character, honesty, integrity, competence and high intellect that the next president of our country must possess in order to face the immense challenges facing our country and the global community in the next six years,” the lawmakers said in their manifesto.

Teodoro, in the meantime, belied reports that another mass defection of key party members is in the offing, describing this as more political black propaganda.

The administration bet issued the statement in Antipolo City before meeting with local officials led by Mayor Danilo Leyble in what observers said was a show of force.

Among the lawmakers present at the Dusit meeting were some from the so-called Northern Alliance.

There were earlier reports that Rep. Eric Singson got the Northern Luzon lawmakers to shift loyalty from Teodoro to Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr.

“While their personal commitment is important to me, it is also equally important to show the public that reports of the looming defections of key party members are not all true,” said Teodoro.

After meeting with his supporters at city hall, Teodoro, running mate Edu Manzano and senatorial candidate Rey Langit proceeded to the Rizal provincial capitol where they were welcomed by Rizal Gov. Casimiro Ynares for a closed-door meeting.

Ynares is a stalwart of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).

Head count

The administration party is trying hard to solve the problem of defection that has been hounding them in the past weeks.

Banking on unopposed bets

What makes the administration party movers optimistic of a victory is the fact that aside from the categorical support, at least 26 mayoral and vice mayoral bets in Cagayan Valley, most of them Teodoro supporters, are assured of victory because they are running unopposed.

Records obtained from the Commission on Elections showed that of the 13 unopposed mayoralty candidates, six are from northernmost mainland Cagayan province, four are from Isabela, two from Nueva Vizcaya and one from Quirino.

The same number of unopposed bets for vice mayor is noted in the region’s four mainland provinces, and most are also allied with Teodoro.

“This is what will make Gibo very strong in Isabela with all the mayors behind him. As far as we are concerned Gibo will take Isabela,” said three-term Rep. Faustino Dy III, now running for governor under the administration party.

“We are still 110 percent behind Gibo,” stressed Dy amid the defections of some administration stalwarts to other political parties.

Governors Cua of Quirino and Antonio of Cagayan said that a majority of their provinces’ mayors, including those running unopposed, are also rooting for Teodoro.

“Our support for Gibo Teodoro has never waned. We have been consulting our constituents and we can say that most are for Gibo,” said Cua, now running for congressman while his father, Rep. Cua, is seeking the governorship. Charlie Lagasca, Jaime Laude

Gloria Forever, part 4

Gloria Forever, part 4
Ricky Carandang

The pieces are falling into place.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s longtime bodyguard, Delfin Bangit sits atop the chain of command of the Armed Forces.

Arroyo is a shoo in for Speaker of the House following her near certain win in the 2nd district of Pampanga.

And now she is set to appoint a loyal and pliant Chief Justice at the Supreme Court.

The appointment of General Delfin Bangit raised a few eyebrows but, lets face it…any president would want to choose a chief of staff of the Armed Forces that he or she would be comfortable with.  On its own, Bangit’s appointment shouldn’t be more alarming than the appointment of General Hermogenes Esperon a few years ago.

But then there’s the run for Congress. A clear sign that Arroyo does not intend to simply fade away.  With a barrage of tv ads and infomercials meant to establish her “legacy” (Ituwid Natin!), she has been campaigning around Pampanga for her son Mikey’s seat in Congress, but she’s also been traveling around the country campaigning to be speaker of the House.    If I’m not mistaken, the Lakas Kampi party is spending more on Arroyo’s bid for Congress than it is on Gilbert Teodoro’s presidential campaign.

As Speaker, with billions of pesos in resources at her disposal, and with four or five of her family joining her in the House,  Arroyo would remain a formidable political force with the potential power to impeach a recalcitrant president, and decide what bills get passed and what measures get blocked.

But what really takes the cake is the Supreme Court’s innovative reinterpretation of the Constitution. The Constitution clearly says that the president shall not make any appointments except temporary appointments in executive positions within 60 days before an election.  That provision has been backed up by precedent: In 1998, Fidel Ramos tried to appoint two judges to regional trial courts in Nueva Ecija and the Supreme Court, voting unanimously, nullified the appointments.  And yet, this Supreme Court–specifically Justice Lucas Bersamin–threw it all out and overturned the Constitution.  Such extraordinary action must require an  extraordinary motive.

I believe that Arroyo is once again moving pieces into place to try to extend her term of office.  Imagine if the Comelec announces that it cannot proclaim a new president by June 30.  Per the constitution, the order of succession would be the vice president, the senate president, and the speaker of the House, in that order. But with the terms of all of these officers having expired on 30 June, the country would be put in a situation not contemplated by the constitution…the terms of the old leaders have expired and no new leaders installed. There would be no legally constituted head of state or government. A perfect opening for the outgoing president–in this case Arroyo–to proclaim herself holdover president until a new president can be proclaimed.  Protests would follow,but thanks to Bangit, they would be quelled and the Armed Forces would remain loyal to her.  Lawyers would question her assumption of holdover powers and question its legality before the Supreme Court.  Thanks to this new decision the new Chief Justice would rule in her favor.   The end.

Or another scenario is that elections go through on the local level but fail on the national level. This means that new mayors, governors, and congressmen are   proclaimed but no new senators, president, and vice president would be proclaimed.  Following the line of succession, the acting president would be the Speaker of the House. Since the winners of congressional races were proclaimed, the House could convene and elect Arroyo speaker, and she would assume the position of acting president. The end.

It has always been Arroyo’s style to push the limits of public tolerance and back off when it has been reached. She tried to revise the constitution and got as far as convening the Abueva Commission and having it draft a new charter.  It was only when public anger rose that the Supreme Court stopped the charter change effort.

This time around, she has managed to declare her candidacy, ensure the loyalty of the AFP, and overturn a constitutional provision with hardly a peep from anyone except a few lawyers’ groups. There has not yet been enough pushback from the public for her to stop.  I think the next two to three months will indicate to her whether she pushes forward or backs off.  So far, the coast seems clear.