A senator facing coup charges called for President Arroyo’s removal Thursday after walking out of a coup d’etat hearing at the Makati City Hall.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes and Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim marched out of a Makati courtroom and joined civilians and uniformed military personnel armed with M-16 and M-14 rifles. The soldiers, some of whom were carrying Magdalo flags, marched along Makati Avenue towards the Ninoy Aquino Monument at the corner of Paseo de Roxas and Ayala Avenue.
“This is a withdrawal of support. We are joining our people in calling for the removal of the President,” Lim announced over radio dzMM.
He added that they made the call because the President continues to violate the Constitution with impunity by plundering the treasury.
Trillanes also called on the people to join them in Makati. “Magsama-sama tayo. Nanawagan po kami sa taongbayan na naniniwala sa pagbabago. Join us po,” he said.
Former vice president Teofisto Guingona, who was marching with the rebel soldiers, said the move is part of various groups’ call for the rejection of Mrs. Arroyo’s “morally bankrupt” administration.
Reports said a group of farmers have already joined the march.
Leah Navarro of the Black and White Movement said members of the civil society group will also join Trillanes.
The walkout of Trillanes and Lim occurred several minutes after the start of a court hearing at Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 148.
Lim was summoned to attend the hearing as a witness in the coup trial of Trillanes and other junior officers allegedly involved in the botched July 2003 mutiny at the Oakwood Premier (now Ascott Hotel) in Makati City.
The senator’s lawyers summoned Lim to testify on the supposed negotiations at the height of the mutiny of the so-called Magdalo group.
Trillanes’s camp said Lim would testify that Mrs. Arroyo supposedly promised to spare all but the core leaders of the junior officers from criminal prosecution.
Lim was a member of the government negotiating panel headed by former Armed Forces chief Roy Cimatu. The stand-off between government troops and the Magdalo group ended peacefully after successful negotiations led to the surrender of the junior officers and soldiers who joined the Oakwood takeover.
Lim, who was the commanding officer of the Army’s elite First Scout Ranger Regiment, was later accused of involvement in an aborted power grab in February 2006. He was detained in Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal, along with former Philippine Marines Corps commandant Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda, Col. Ariel Querubin and several Army and Marines officers, pending trial by a court martial.
Trillanes has asked the court to summon Sen. Gregorio Honasan who was initially charged with leading the mutiny in conspiracy with the Magdalo group.
Judge Oscar Pimentel dismissed the charges against Honasan after Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez dropped the senator in the case.