MANILA,  May 24, 2004
By Christina Mendez  -  Even as both chambers of Congress convene today as the National Board of Canvassers, some members of the political opposition appear bent on installing Fernando Poe Jr. as president.

Sources from the military and police spoke yesterday about a supposed opposition plot to force a Poe proclamation by June 30, even if the action star subsequently loses to President Arroyo in the official canvass.

The latest post-election intrigue complements earlier reports of a "no proclamation" plot.

"These groups are creating propaganda to project that there was massive poll fraud in the last elections," one military source said.

The source said the government had monitored as early as January this year an operation plan, or oplan, code-named "Aklas Bayan." The oplan sought to exploit the perception of large-scale electoral fraud to foment another "EDSA III," a civil disturbance in 2001 that culminated on a Labor Day siege of Malacañang.

The impending Poe proclamation apparently has the blessings of deposed President Joseph Estrada, who, the source said, stands to benefit the most from a Poe presidency.

"The only person who wouldn’t want President Arroyo proclaimed is Erap because Erap’s chance to be exonerated is lost," said a ranking military officer involved in gathering reports of destabilization against the Arroyo administration.

The source added that the plan to proclaim Poe could be a "continuation" of the "Oplan Andres" uncovered by the military in the aftermath of the Oakwood mutiny last year in Makati City.

The oplan, retrieved from partially damaged diskettes recovered at the Oakwood Hotel by government soldiers, told of plans to topple the Arroyo administration using mass actions of the magnitude of EDSA Tres.

A review of the documents of Oplan Andres revealed that the Poe proclamation scenario was one of two options laid out by the opposition, then led by seasoned coup plotter Sen. Gregorio Honasan.

The first scenario was the "Robin option," which was the direct takeover of the government during the foiled Oakwood mutiny.

The oplan’s second scenario called for Poe’s installation through "strong decisive force" and his subsequent resignation after the "concrete program of action" has been achieved.

But the source clarified that at the time of the oplan’s discovery, Poe had not yet been drafted as a presidential candidate of the opposition.

"This has been part of the plan of the opposition… part of Oplan Andres. They will not stop. They are hoping against hope that this stand will hold," the source said.

Another source from the military appears to confirm the plot by some opposition members to proclaim Poe "at all costs."

"They plan to hold a separate proclamation of FPJ on June 30," said a ranking military officer privy to a security meeting at Malacañang last Friday.

Reportedly being eyed as venues for the proclamation are the Quirino Grandstand at Manila’ Rizal Park, Lingayen in Pangasinan, Calamba City in Laguna and General Santos City in South Cotabato, the source said.

But Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Lt. Col. Daniel Lucero assured the public yesterday that the entire AFP is "intact" and is ready to protect their sovereign will of the people.

He called for sobriety amid reports of large-scale poll fraud and unconfirmed destabilization moves.

"The AFP is on top of the situation," he said.

Lucero also warned the public and his colleagues in the military against a possible disinformation campaign being waged to sow division in the uniformed services.

He appealed to the media to verify with the authorities first all rumors of coups or missing military units that are spread via text messages sent to newsrooms and reporters.

Lucero clarified that two Ranger companies reported earlier as "missing" in Mindanao were in fact part of an authorized troop redeployment.

"These are reports that intend to sow terror and fuel unrest in the military," he said.

For his part, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Chief Superintendent Joel Goltiao downplayed the capability of the political opposition to mount massive destabilization moves to derail the proclamation of the winning president and vice president by June 30.

"We have been planning for the worst-case scenario, but we do not expect it to happen," he said.

He added that the PNP, which will provide security to the canvassing at the Batasang Pambansa complex in Quezon City, remained "on heightened alert" and will match any civil disturbance with a "calibrated response."

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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