The coup threats that have been making the rounds recently are not coup threats in the strict sense of the word. They do not come from any section of the government’s security forces. Basically, they emanate from a long-standing strategic policy of a loose aggrupation of disgruntled GMA allies, former officials, and politicians and members of the catholic clergy likewise closely identified with GMA, known as the National Transformation Council or the NTC, to instigate or foment a military-backed people power uprising, or an EDSA 3 (or EDSA 4, depending on how one counts the May 1, 2001 Mendiola uprising) as they would wish.
The NTC has carefully formulated this strategy in the false hope of propagating it legally in the mass media and among supporters without however accruing any criminal liability under the penal laws on rebellion, sedition, and coup d’ etat. This is a false hope, since certain actions already implemented by the group, from organizing foras and conferences of supporters and sympathizers, can already be contemplated as conspiracies relating to sedition, rebellion or coup d’ etat.
This false hope was recently articulated by former Defense Secretary and NSA Adviser Norberto Gonzales in his interview with Karen Davila of ANC’s Headstart the previous week. Gonzales is an active member of the NTC, having attended most of its previous gatherings since last year in Lipa, Batangas (the NTC’s founding “Congress” on August 27, 2014) and Cebu City. According to Gonzales, there is nothing wrong with people power, or a change in regime through people power, which was the case with EDSA 1 and 2.
This is Gonzales’ doublespeak. The NTC has publicly declared in its meetings and so -called consultations that a people power strategy for regime change can only be successful if backed by military support for the installation of the National Transformation Council as a “transition government”, and the suspension of elections or any other democratic process sanctioned under a constitutional government, until the enactment of reforms to be dictated by the NTC as the de facto government of the Republic.
Everything in this strategy is illegal and unconstitutional, except probably for the people power part if executed merely as a form of mass mobilization in the exercise of the people’s freedom of assembly. The installation of the NTC as the governing body of the Republic is nothing but the installation of a civilian-military junta, and the call for the military’s support for its defense and installation is nothing less than a proposal or conspiracy to commit the crime of coup d’etat. The NTC’s pronouncements and publicly declared strategy for the capture of state power through active military support to the NTC are therefore acts which already constitute conspiracy or proposal to commit rebellion and coup d’ etat (Art. 136 in relation to Arts. 134 and 134-A, Revised Penal Code), conspiracy to commit sedition (Art. 141 in relation to Art. 139, RPC) or, at the very least, inciting to sedition (Art. 142, RPC), as well as illegal assemblies (Art. 146, RPC).
A junta by any other sanitized name is still illegal and unconstitutional. By calling for people power and military support to force the President’s “resignation” in order to pave the way for a junta, the NTC and its mushrooming allied alphabet soup organizations of discredited government officials consisting of charged plunderers, grafters, and tax evaders, or of those under investigation for such crimes, may have just crossed the line of legitimate dissent. The government will not relent in applying the full force of the law against them in order to protect the people and the State from an unconstitutional and illegal power grab.
In the end, any civilian or religious-led putsch will not succeed, because the military will never support the extra-constitutional installation of a junta led by GMA bishops and ex-officials. The AFP and the PNP stand behind the President, no matter how the Mamasapano incident is exploited by opportunists, such as NTC, to sow discord and division among their ranks. It is the height of pathetic gutter politics, when the tragic loss of 44 police officers killed in the line of duty is used by disgraced pathological personalities to crawl their way back to national relevance, at the expense of the people’s effort to come to terms with the complex issue of peace in Mindanao in their search for justice for the SAF 44. The nation is still grieving, and without any sense of shame, these personalities would use the people’s grief to pervert a national catharsis, serving only their own thirst and craving for absolute power by imposing upon this nation a tyranny of religious and political has-beens.