(Updated 10:04 p.m.) A group of former military officers have tried to recruit active officers and soldiers into overthrowing President Benigno Aquino III, employing the red-scare tactic that he is leading a closet communist regime, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV told reporters in an interview Monday.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said he received information from former colleagues that retired officers have used the "red scare” tactic — that the Aquino administration is emerging as a communist regime — in recruiting active officers and soldiers.
"There were retired officers recruiting active officers… They were those removed from the corridors of power and want to come back," said Trillanes.
A Navy Lieutenant Senior Grade who took part in efforts to overthrow the Arroyo administration in 2003 and 2007, Trillanes said in Tagalog, “There were soldiers that were approached… An official, who sent word to us, was approached… But they didn’t bite the offer.”
The recruitment started last year, he added.
A strong chain of command
The military did not receive such information, according to the AFP spokesperson, adding that the chain of command “remains strong.”
“I can assure you that your Armed Forces of the Philippines remains a professional organization and united and solid behind the leadership of our President and commander-in-chief,” said AFP spokesperson Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos in Camp Aguinaldo.
Any plot to oust President Aquino does not exist, Burgos noted. “All I can say is… Within the ranks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines —
those in the active service — I can truly say na wala kaming nare-recieve at namo-monitor na ganyang klaseng report,” he said.
President Aquino informed
Trillanes relayed the information to President Aquino, even if he believed such a plot will not succeed.
"It's a propaganda line… Hindi yan magpo-progress kasi, aside from the fact na very clear ang mandate ni President Aquino, talagang wala namang [siyang] ginagawang hindi maganda o maayos," according to the senator.
However, the AFP needs to reactivate its counter-intelligence units to "nip" such movements "in the bud," he noted, saying the military also needs to start an information campaign within its ranks on what is going on.
Trillanes, who was elected to the Senate in 2007 while incarcerated in Quezon City’s Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, was granted amnesty by Aquino in 2010.
Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, a former Army colonel who led several attempts to overthrow then-President Corazon Aquino, has no information on any movement within the military, saying the so-called red scare is “grossly exaggerated.”
The late President Corazon Aquino is the mother of President Benigno Aquino III.
"Itong sinasabi nating... bipolar condition — communism against democracy — I think passe na ‘yun, hindi na ‘yun existent,” Honasan told reporters in a separate interview.
“We are driven not by ideology anymore but by the realities of the economy," he added.
If such a plot were true, he doubted it would succeed.
"Wala akong nakikitang seryoso na gut issue na mag-uudyok nito. Maaring may mga komentaryo being ventilated in little social gatherings pero not in the magnitude that precipitated the 1986 revolution or the events after that," Honasan said.
Think things over
If he comes across similar information, he will advise soldiers to think things over, according to the senator from Bicol.
"Mag-isip-isip kayo… mag-isip kayo mabuti… kung ito ay makakabuti sa taong-bayan. Mabigat na pasanin ito. You must assume responsibility for the outcome, whether you fail or succeed," said Honasan.
Honasan helped found RAM — Reformed the Armed Forces Movement — a group of officers and soldiers yearning for change, and power, under the regime of then-strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
RAM was instrumental in fomenting the 1986 People Power revolution — which catapulted Corazon Aquino to power — by openly taking sides against the Marcos regime in the wake of the fraud-tainted Feb. 7 snap elections.
Honasan was arrested after a failed coup against the administration of President Corazon Aquino in 1989. He was granted amnesty by then- President Fidel Ramos in 1992. He first became a senator in 1995. — KBK/VS/HS, GMA News