GRINGO:  I'M  NOW  A  REFORMED  PUTSCHIST

MANILA, 
May 27, 2004  (STAR) By Jess Diaz  -  The country’s most notorious coup plotter admits his past sins but swears he is now a rehabilitated putschist.

"I admit I had a part in coup attempts in 1986 and 1989, but I swear to God and to our people that I am now rehabilitated," opposition Sen. Gregorio Honasan told radio station dzBB.

He was reacting to an accusation made by Philippine National Police intelligence chief Director Robert Delfin that he has been recruiting organizations and individuals for sustained mass actions that would prevent the proclamation of winners in the presidential elections on or before June 30, when the terms of President Arroyo and Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. end.

Honasan, a former Army colonel discharged from the military due to his alleged involvement in at least seven coup attempts during the Aquino administration, is one of the leaders of the opposition Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP).

He was in charge of perimeter security for movie actor Fernando Poe Jr., KNP standard-bearer in the May 10 elections.

He said he is now a man of peace and would stick to the peaceful process of attaining reforms.

"This is the reason why, at the risk of being accused of selling out to the administration, I signed a covenant for peaceful and orderly elections shortly before May 10. I intend to abide by that," he said.

He said the covenant covers resolution of post-election issues through democratic and peaceful processes.

He signed the pact with Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., president of the ruling Lakas party, as leader of the Philippine Guardians Brotherhood, Inc., a group composed mostly of retired military and police officers.

Honasan denied he has been recruiting groups and individuals in many parts of the country for mass protests in Metro Manila.

He admitted that he has traveled around the country during the campaign to accompany Poe in his sorties and also to solicit votes for Guardians as a party-list organization.

He said if he continues to believe in coup attempts and violence as means of achieving reforms, he would not have encouraged his organization to participate in the party-list elections.

"Besides, in the Senate, I chair the committee on peace, unity and reconciliation. It is unthinkable for me to advocate, support or abet violence," he stressed.

Honasan has been attending the joint session of Congress acting as a canvassing board for votes for president and vice president.

He is supporting the proposal of his opposition colleagues that the Senate and the House canvass the votes in plenary session instead of delegating the job to a bicameral committee.

Allies of the President in the legislature claim the proposal is intended to prevent the proclamation of winners on or before June 30. In case that happens, Senate President Franklin Drilon takes over from Mrs. Arroyo as acting president. — With Jose Rodel Clapano


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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