Last night I received a tip that there might be troop movements. The reason given was that it was to preempt the arrest of ringleaders planning a coup. I was unable to confirm it with other sources and so didn’t blog it.
There has been scuttlebutt of increasing frustration in the military for some days now; what remains unclear is if a coup attempt has been foiled, or only partially frustrated.
Because it doesn’t archive articles or provide permanent links, I’m reproducing an intriguing article that came out yesterday in the Philippine Star: I am convinced it was leaked for a purpose.
Ateneo study warns against impending social disorder
By Perseus Echeminada
The Philippine Star 12/11/2005
A study prepared by the Center for Strategic Studies of the Ateneo de Manila University for National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales has warned of a “deepening social disorder, destitution and despair” if the political crisis hounding President Arroyo is not resolved soon.
In a 49-page report titled “AFP: Defender of the Nation, Guardian of Democracy and Servant of the People,” Fr. Romeo Intengan, the Ateneo centerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s president, warned that the country is in the “grip of a political crisis largely because of chronic inability of the present political system to effectively address the economic and cultural problems of Philippine society that are the roots of the revolutionary situation that the country is in now.”
It did not specify if the social disorder it referred to meant civil war but said “organized groups of significant strength are pursuing revolutionary change with real possibility of success.”
The report, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR, is now reportedly being circulated in military camps to enlighten troops on the importance of the role of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in keeping the peace.
It stated that the AFP was once a proud institution but is now part of the current political crisis because of corruption and mismanagement.
“Systematic deficiencies have caused the capability gaps in the AFP operations and have engendered opportunity for malpractice like graft and corruption within the ranks,” the report said.
Despite that, the report said the military would continue to uphold the law and reject adventurism.
“There is much hope that the AFP would sooner (rather) than later vigorously carry out its duty as defender, guardian and servant of the nation. Democracy and the people in cooperation with other patriotic and social forces,” it said.
The opposition, of which deposed President Joseph Estrada is the de facto leader, has been waging a six-month-old campaign to oust Mrs. Arroyo over charges that she cheated to win the May 2004 election. Estrada is in detention on massive corruption charges.
In September, Mrs. ArroyoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s allies in Congress quashed an impeachment complaint against Mrs. Arroyo filed by pro-Estrada lawmakers.
This has led to a protracted political standoff between Mrs. Arroyo and the opposition, raising fears that violence or a military takeover might result.
The persistent specter of military intervention reappeared following allegations that a military intelligence unit spied and recorded Mrs. ArroyoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s telephone conversations with an election official believed to be Virgilio Garcillano.
The recordings sparked the worst political crisis to confront Mrs. Arroyo.
Mrs. Arroyo earlier apologized for her “lapse in judgment” in speaking to an unnamed election official before the votes were tallied but she has denied cheating to win the 2004 polls. She did not identify the official but claimed her action was a clumsy bid to protect her slim margin amid a slow vote count.
In early November, Mrs. Arroyo and former President Fidel Ramos met to clear the air between them following a rumor that Ramos Ã¢â‚¬â€ along with some former military generals loyal to him Ã¢â‚¬â€ was plotting a coup.
Ramos and MalacaÃƒÂ±ang strongly denied the rumor.
A rift reportedly developed between Ramos and Mrs. Arroyo when she appeared hesitant to cut short her term in office to pave the way for a Ramos proposal to amend the Constitution and change the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s form of government from a presidential to a parliamentary system.
Shortly after the opposition began its campaign to force Mrs. Arroyo from office, Ramos issued his proposal, which he said would minimize political bickering.
The proposal was perceived to give President Arroyo a “graceful exit” amid opposition-led calls for her resignation over allegations of poll fraud.
The Philippines is no stranger to coup attempts and rumors of instability after popular revolts that toppled Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Estrada in 2001 and has experienced at least a dozen failed military interventions since 1986.
The bloodless uprisings against Marcos and Estrada, however, left an unstable political system in which politicians are quick to threaten the incumbent president with “people power” protests.
It also left lingering fears of a disgruntled military taking over the government to solve the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s economic problems that are often blamed on endless political bickering.
In 2003, about 300 officers and enlisted men seized a ritzy condominium in Makati CityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s business district and rigged the area with bombs.
The mutineers demanded the resignation of Mrs. Arroyo and accused high government officials and their superiors of graft. The uprising ended in less than 24 hours after negotiations.