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Coup d’etat brewing? Palace not concerned

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang appeared unaffected by a senator’s claim that a coup d’etat is brewing, saying the military can handle such a threat.

On Thursday, February 12, Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma would not confirm if the Palace has received information on an alleged coup d’etat, hours after Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said in a Senate hearing that she has “intelligence” information about an alleged plot to overthrow the President.

Asked whether there is a need for a loyalty check among the ranks, Coloma expressed confidence that the military could handle such a threat. (READ: Aquino and the #SAF44 families)

“It is the military’s duty to prevent and eradicate all enemies of the state. (Defense) Secretary (Voltaire) Gazmin himself has proven the readiness of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) to perform this function,” he said.

Coloma would not say if such information had reached President Benigno Aquino III, only saying all threats to the state “are being focused on.”

Santiago revealed the alleged plot in a Senate hearing, probing a deadly operation that killed 44 elite cops.

On January 25, some 392 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos entered Mamasapano town in Maguindanao, a known bailiwick of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), to serve arrest warrants to top terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, better known as "Marwan,” and Abdul Basit Usman.

The operation resulted in a bloody clash between the MILF and SAF troopers leading to the death of a total of at least 68 people, including 44 SAF troopers. The MILF meanwhile, blames this on the failure of the PNP-SAF team to coordinate with them, as provided for in its agreement with the government on operations in known MILF territories. 

The incident has affected the morale of the police force, and has ignited doubts about a peace pact being backed by the President.

The deadly operation occurred less than a year after the group signed a landmark peace deal with the Philippine government, and as lawmakers deliberate on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which seeks to create an autonomous region initially headed by the MILF. The bill has lost some support after the incident.

Additionally, questions on the President's role in the operation, as well as decisions he made, have surfaced. These include allowing then-suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima to be involved in meetings on the operation and leaving out PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. – Rappler.com