PALACE CAUTIONS PUBLIC:  DON'T  BE  FOOLED  BY  LOSERS, DESPERADOES

MANILA,  May 27, 2004
(STAR)
By Marichu Villanueva   -  Malacañang cautioned the public yesterday against being used by political "losers and desperadoes" planning destabilization moves against the government.

"We call upon our people not to allow themselves to be exploited by these losers and desperadoes," Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said.

Bunye issued the statement after the Philippine National Police (PNP) declassified intelligence information linking certain opposition leaders to an alleged "no-proclamation" plot.

Without particularly citing the information supplied by the PNP, Bunye said their latest security briefing indicated "isolated attempts" by some opposition figures to derail the proclamation of the president and vice president.

Deputy Spokesman Ricardo Saludo added that the State has the right to take preemptive actions against those suspected to be plotting another power grab.

"We do not tolerate actions against the State, actions against public order. And especially at this time when we are in the midst of a very crucial political exercise, then definitely actions will be taken under the law by our security authorities to ensure safeguarding of our processes and ensure stability… of our land," he said.

Saludo said they are leaving to authorities the discretion to take appropriate action against individuals and groups involved in the alleged destabilization plot.

"This is a matter that we normally leave to security authorities to handle because they are the ones closer to the evidence and the situation on the ground," he said.

The PNP on Tuesday linked anew opposition Sen. Gregorio Honasan to another power grab attempt.

PNP intelligence chief Director Robert Delfin said Honasan is also talking with senior leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) through intermediaries from groups affiliated with the communist movement.

He said Honasan is now busy recruiting organizations and individuals to sustain mass actions that will highlight "no proclamation" plans on June 30.

Honasan denied the allegations but National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales told dzMM radio that police and military have already reported the intelligence information to President Arroyo over the alleged activities of the opposition lawmaker.

"The authorities have already identified the principals in these desperate and futile moves to destabilize the government," Bunye said.

"They are best warned to abandon their sinister plans or face the full force of the law," he said.

Bunye said rumors of supposed destabilization continue to spread through text messages.

"Let us not pass them around because they only add to the confusion," Bunye said.

"The authorities are on top of the situation and the loyalty of the uniformed services is firm and absolute," he said.

‘GMA Confident’

Bunye said Mrs. Arroyo remained confident that another power grab against her would not succeed.

He echoed the appeals made by Mrs. Arroyo for sobriety and prudence and for the public to keep their faith in the country’s electoral process and wait for Congress to proclaim the winners of the presidential elections.

"The debates in Congress must not bring uncertainty, but greater confidence that democracy will prevail in the end," Bunye said.

Bunye reassured the public that law enforcement agencies are prepared and ready to thwart any "lawless machinations or mob rule" behind the no-proclamation plots.

Saludo, for his part, called on Honasan and other opposition leaders in Congress to act their role as members of the National Board of Canvassers to proclaim the winner in the May 10 elections.

"As I said, we expect that as a member of the Senate that he (Honasan) would do his duty to canvass the vote along with the rest of his colleagues in the legislature... and eventually proclaim a winner in the presidential and vice presidential contest," Saludo said.

Saludo appealed to all contending parties to "come together" and allow the democratic processes "to lay themselves out and let the people’s will emerge."

"And secondly in this time, it would be good to refrain from actions that may cause undue instability," Saludo said.

Supporters of opposition candidate Fernando Poe Jr. claimed he won and that Mrs. Arroyo’s campaign is using massive fraud to steal the election.

They have warned of a people power revolt if the movie star is cheated of victory.

The government replied it will crack down on groups allegedly planning to destabilize the government and possibly prevent Mrs. Arroyo from being declared the winner of the May 10 presidential election.

Mrs. Arroyo has a narrow lead in an unofficial vote count, and an official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), speaking on condition of anonymity, said Monday she won.

Only Congress, in a joint session convening as the National Board of Canvassers, can proclaim the winner, and it is to begin its counting process this week as some kind of confrontation over the results seemed increasingly inevitable.

PNP chief Director General Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. earlier said communist rebels and some opposition groups have formed an "unholy alliance" to destabilize the government and prevent the possible proclamation of Mrs. Arroyo with "mass actions."

Police said one group, election watchdog Patriots, is a communist front and that others involved include a Poe spokeswoman, an aide of Honasan and an officer of a leftist party who consults the communists in peace talks with the government.

Ebdane said he doubted they have the capacity to mount another people power revolt like the mass protests that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and also forced President Joseph Estrada to step down in 2001.

All of those named by Ebdane denied any destabilization plans and said the government was just "paranoid." Honasan said it was "the height of irresponsibility" for police to link "peaceful citizens to such a plot."

"If these fabrications continue, it will divide the people," said Honasan, a former army colonel who led coup attempts against President Corazon Aquino in the late 1980s and was linked to the "Oakwood mutiny" against Mrs. Arroyo in July 27 last year.

Estrada’s son, re-elected San Juan mayor Joseph Victor Ejercito, said Mrs. Arroyo is being "paranoid" over reports of destabilization plots.

"Those kinds of statements comes from a regime who knows well that they do not have a clear mandate and the support of the people," Ejercito said.

"If she really believes she won in the elections, then there is nothing to be paranoid of," he said. — With Non Alquitran


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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