Six officials from the Catholic Church and three members of religious groups have joined the National Transformation Council’s (NTC) call for President Benigno Aquino III to “step down.”
In Cebu City, retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal appealed to other bishops and religious leaders to join the Catholic Church in praying for God’s guidance “for the renewal of the nation.”
The archbishops who have supported the calls for President Aquino to resign are Romulo Dela Cruz of Zamboanga City and Ramon Arguelles of Lipa City in Batangas; Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla of Davao, Bishop Ramon Villena of Bayombong, Nueva Viscaya and Bishop Filomeno Bactol of Naval, Biliran.
The Catholic Church leaders showed their support to calls for Aquino to resign during a recent gathering in Cebu City joined by NTC convenors former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales and former Senator Kit Tatad.
Other leaders present during the meeting were Bishop Butch Belgica and Bishop Jose Socito of Christian Bishops and Ministries in the Philippines and Evangelical Pastor Arthur Corpus of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.
The bishops’ support was made during Vidal’s post-birthday party at his home in Sto. Niño Village in Banilad, Cebu City.
“The National Transformation Council has strongly articulated that the President should step down. We, bishops of the Catholic and other Christian Churches, have often been asked if there is moral basis to this growing demand. Recent developments have made this call even more urgent and imperative,” Vidal said in a statement during the event.
In the same event Tatad said: “The entire government must step down, including those who have claims to the line of presidential succession because as far as the NTC is concerned, the whole electoral process (in 2010) was fraudulent.”
He said that the NTC has received calls during their previous assemblies to organize a government that could fix the present system.
“Not to succeed president Aquino but to put in place a working democratic system where you have genuinely free elections and where you could hint to transform the structure of the government,” Tatad said.
Gonzales said that the NTC will not support a coup.
We are hoping that the people will have the courage to come out and support the call for Aquino to resign,” said Gonzales.
TINGTING COJUANGCO and husband Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, uncle of President Aquino were in mass rally at the Our Lady of Edsa Shrine to call for the ouster of President Benigno Aquino III and other government officials. The group, who identified themselves under the “Edsa 2/22 coalition,” asked for the resignation of Aquino, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Franklin Drilon, House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte and their colleagues in Congress. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said rebellion charges could be filed against those planning to oust President Aquuino.
Binay should also go
Norberto Gonzales was part of a group calling on President Benigno Aquino to step down.
But his group, the National Transformation Council (NTC), is not only after the head of Aquino but also that of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Gonzales, the national security adviser of the Arroyo administration, said “When we say stepping down of the President, we are talking about regime change. It’s not only him that should step down but also Vice President Jejomar Binay and other officials.”
Gonzales and former Senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad are among key players of the NTC.
The NTC has gathered 10 million signatures nationwide in support for the call for the President to resign or to step down.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV had linked Gonzales, also a former defense secretary of the Arroyo administration, to an alleged plot to unseat Aquino amid public anger over a disastrous police operation to arrest Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan.”
The NTC said Aquino was unfit for the presidency due to his “incompetence and insensitivity.” The NTC said it could take over the government in a “caretaker capacity.”
Upon the resignation of the President and his Cabinet, Gonzales said NTC would establish an interim government, with bishops and other religious leaders as “moral advisers.”
Gonzales said he and the NTC do not support a coup.
No to coup
Former Tarlac Rep. Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr., an uncle of President Aquino, admitted that he was among those pushing for change in the country’s leadership.
But like former Defense secretary (Arroyo administration) Norberto Gonzales, Cojuangco frowns on a coup unseating Aquino.
Cojuangco said his call for change was neither a prelude to a coup nor a military takeover.
Cojuangco’s name surfaced as a plotter after Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said a rich businessman was planning to oust the President.
Denying the charge, Cojuangco said: “I’m not in favor of a coup. I am against a military takeover. But I am in favor of major reforms or change in leadership.”
Cojuangco’s idea of change is similar Gonzales’ call for the establishment of a transition government.
Cojuangco, a brother of the late President Corazon Aquino, said the calls for major changes in leadership and in governance had earned the support of key sectors after the Mamasapano incident.
He noted that the social atmosphere today was similar to the unrest that led to Edsa People Power Revolution in 1986 that toppled the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and Edsa People Power II that unseated in 2001 then President Joseph Estrada who was facing an impeachment trial on corruption charges.
At least five Catholic bishops have called on the President to “step down” because they believe he is no longer fit for the presidency.