MANILA,  May 20, 2004
By Karl B. Kaufman , Reporter and Anthony Vargas , Correspondent

ACTIVE and retired military officers have joined forces and are just waiting for a “triggering point” to “make a move” to expose alleged cheating in the election by the administration and corruption within the Armed Forces, a ranking military official said Wednesday.

The official, who asked not to be named, said the group decided to consolidate forces following the alleged witch-hunt by the military leadership on perceived supporters of the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino’s presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr., the chief rival of President Arroyo.

“The issue here is no longer about FPJ or the cheating. It is about the blatant abuse of our democratic system to hide the corruption in the AFP. It’s the corrupt officials versus the idealistic officers,” the official told The Manila Times.

The ranks of the active officials range from captains to colonels, the officer said.

The move, the source said, aims to “correct” both the massive cheating and the corruption among AFP generals. He did not specify the move, but emphasized there was no political color to it.

“Some of us didn’t even vote for Poe, but are apprehensive over what we see is the administration’s attempt to play around to ensure its stay,” he said.

The official said the “paranoia” of the AFP chief of staff, Gen. Narciso Abaya, has already resulted in a witch-hunt of officers suspected of campaigning for Poe.

Over the past few days the names of Marine Brig. Gen. Francisco Gudani and Army Col. Jose Gamus came out as officers allegedly engaged in partisan political activities.

“From what I heard, I believe a discreet investigation is going on against several officials,” the officer said.

Reports said Gudani was relieved of his post for refusing to participate in the administration’s cheating in his area in Marawi City, while the Army leadership is hunting Gamus for allegedly “openly campaigning” for Poe in Mindanao.

Maj. Rommel Abrau, information officer of the Marines, denied Gudani had been booted out of his position. “He is being investigated for an incident in Marawi where a civilian was killed,” he told The Times through a text message.

Gamus has yet to surrender to Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio in Makati City. In a TV interview Monday, he denied campaigning for Poe in Mindanao.

In Camp Crame, the Philippine National Police headquarters, a police official said the plot to destabilize the government would succeed only if the groups behind it would unite in their efforts to undermine the government.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the people behind these groups are reportedly conferring with each other but have reached no common ground.

He named the groups as the Association of Generals for Peace and Orderly Election, the Council for Philippine Affairs of Pastor Saycon and the group of the former Armed Forces chief of staff, retired general Fortunato Abat.

“There are some talks going on between these groups. However, they could not agree on some terms. They should meet on one line. They are still loose,” the source said.

The source added that once these groups agreed on a common ground, that would be the time the government should be wary, since they would pose a serious threat.

“And if this happens, we might see another EDSA 3 [blowing up] in our faces. The government should stand against this,” the source said.

The PNP has played down the destabilization rumors, although it admits that it is monitoring some political groups.

“We are only monitoring these groups and analyzing their plans. But we are also keeping our communication lines open with their leaders,” Goltiao told reporters Tuesday.

Goltiao also said the military doesn’t see any massive rallies of the same magnitude as EDSA 3, which sought to reinstall deposed President Joseph Estrada in 2001, noting that it has received no information on such a scenario.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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