Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Coup Talk in the PI

A coup in the brew for the Philippines? LA Times reports rumors and calls to action here.
Many argue that the nation has again reached this state of crisis, with Arroyo's administration crippled by allegations of rampant financial corruption and claims that she rigged the election that returned her to power in 2004.

Wiretaps leaked in June suggest that Arroyo called a member of the elections commission 15 times during the tallying of vote totals from each province. She has acknowledged only a "lapse in judgment" in phoning an election commissioner to "protect" her votes.

Arroyo has refused to resign, challenging her opponents to impeach her. That process is set to begin in Congress this week but there is profound frustration among opponents at what they regard as Arroyo's stalling tactics as the country slides into deeper economic despair.

"Somebody has to take her out if she won't go," said Ike Seneres, a former ambassador who was an Arroyo advisor until a few weeks ago, when he bolted to the opposition. "The armed forces of the Philippines have to take her out. Do they not have a sense of smell? This government stinks, and they have not done anything."

Seneres made his plea Thursday at the launch of an umbrella group of opposition forces under the banner of a civilian Caretaker Council, which aims to govern until fresh elections can be held if Arroyo is forced from office. Opposition politicians have not been able to rally around an alternative leader.

If a coup does come, no one will be able to claim surprise. Arroyo and her dwindling band of supporters are clearly aware of the risk, repeatedly demanding that Filipinos stick to constitutional methods in trying to remove her. "No To Junta, Yes to Democracy" reads a government banner strung across a major bridge that leads toward the president's Malacanang Palace.

The top commanders of the police and armed forces have publicly pledged to remain neutral. The threat of a coup comes from junior officers in the armed forces who are widely regarded as idealistic, nationalistic and appalled by what they see as corruption extending into the upper reaches of the Philippine military itself. These officers have some backing from retired generals who have gone public with laments for the current state of the military.
What follows such a coup?

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