P10m for Trillanes putsch

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE financiers of last week’s failed revolt in Makati released more than P10 million to pay the “warm bodies” who were supposed to join various rallies in the metropolis and the families of the Magdalo soldiers who led the hotel siege, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said yesterday.

He said he had ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to gather evidence against the Makati-based politician who was said to have financed the communist leaders who spent weeks in two posh hotels neighboring The Peninsula, Manila in preparation for the Nov. 29 takeover.

“We already know who this person is. But we will not release the name until we have enough evidence,” Gonzalez said in an interview.

He said the P10-million estimate was based on documents and physical evidence that police had found.

The four teams that were supposed to spearhead the revolt, including Trillanes’ group at The Peninsula, were supposed to be supported by at least 10,000 demonstrators who were to be paid P200 each, Gonzalez said.

“Do the math—that will already translate to at least P2 million,” he said.

The prominent personalities who were supposed to arrive at the hotel would have been paid more, he added.

The Magdalo leaders themselves who were in the hotel were given P10,000 and SIM cards.

“So you can see that Thursday’s event was not something impromptu. It did not occur out of the blue. It was well-planned, well-coordinated and well-oiled,” Gonzalez said.

He said that if the money from the Makati-based politician were included, the total financing for the soldiers and their leftist allies could have reached P15 million.

Reports reaching the police said two members of the central committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Myrna Hombrebueno and Elizabeth Principe, were even together in one unit of the Gilarmi Apartments along Ayala Avenue before they were arrested separately.

Hombrebueno, common-law wife of CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison, was arrested at The Peninsula along with Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, while Principe was taken in Cubao, Quezon City, a day before the Makati siege.

Police also received information that other members of the CPP central committee occupied a unit at the Ritz Tower Condominium, also along Ayala Avenue, in preparation for Thursday’s siege.

Some of those charged with rebellion for The Peninsula takeover yesterday asked the Makati Regional Trial Court to order a review of the charges filed against them.

Lawyers for former Vice President Teofisto Guingona and others charged asked the court to defer proceedings until the preliminary investigation was completed.

The rebellion case against Trillanes, Guingona, and 34 others was raffled off to Judge Elmo Almeda of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150, who dismissed the government’s rebellion case against six left-wing lawmakers earlier this year.

Also yesterday, opposition Senators Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Panfilo Lacson visited Trillanes in Camp Crame and advised him “to stay out of trouble” and to be steadfast in his cause.

Pimentel and Lacson met with Trillanes for about an hour, but they refused to say what was discussed.

The justice department has deferred a plan to move Trillanes and his co-accused to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa pending a resolution from Almeda that there is probable cause for the rebellion charges.

Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, meanwhile, said Trillanes and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim committed a colossal blunder when they chose a five-star hotel to launch a fresh coup attempt.

Enrile, a key figure in the February 1986 Edsa People Power revolt that toppled the Marcos dictatorship, said a posh hotel was the worst place for a coup, citing the 1987 attempt to install Arturo Tolentino as president and the aborted 2003 Oakwood mutiny.

“If you want to do a thing like that, don’t go to a hotel. A hotel is for something else—to sleep, eat and have coffee—but not to undertake such a bloody enterprise as calling for the people to revolt against the government,” he told the weekly Kapihan sa Senado forum.

The former defense secretary said any attempt by any group to use a classy hotel as staging ground for a civilian-backed military uprising would be considered a joke.

He said Trillanes and Lim would have been better off staging the coup at the court room where they were being tried.