Manila – With the nation divided on whether it is time to move on after President Gloria Arroyo admitted to a "lapse of judgement" during last year’s presidential elections, all eyes are now on what the military will do next. While the Philippines is today one of Southeast Asia’s most thriving democracies, its military has a long history of launching bloody coups against sitting presidents.
Mrs Arroyo on June 27 apologised to the nation for having improperly called an Election Commission official while votes were being counted during last year’s presidential elections.
Some analysts said Mrs Arroyo's mea culpa could stir restiveness among sections of the 130,000-strong Armed Forces, particularly the reform-minded middle officer ranks.
For the moment, the top brass in both the military and police have expressed their continuing support for her. Spokesmen for the two institutions also warned that the security forces would crush "violent and armed reactions" that could be launched in response to Mrs Arroyo's confession.
Despite such public proclamations of support, political analyst Tony Gatmaitan said that all it takes for a coup attempt is one prominent military figure identified with the President to break ranks.
"I hold the view that the Arroyo fortress can only be assaulted from the inside and there would have to be people breaking ranks before she is taken," Mr Gatmaitan, who works for the Political Economy Applied Research Foundation, told AFP.
"President Arroyo now has no choice but to keep her generals happy by giving them more and more concessions," he said.
Several newspaper commentators suggested that the political imbroglio be resolved by getting the House of Representatives to start impeachment proceedings against Mrs Arroyo.
Mr Ricardo V Puno, writing in The Philippine Star, said: "If GMA is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, and the alleged theft of an election would indubitably come within that category, them impeachment is the logical process."
An editorial in The Manila Times said: "The political opposition must make the next move…Take the President to the House, the people's court. An impeachment will be very instructive, decisive, even explosive. 'Let the chips fall where they may,' the President has said. So be it."
* GMA needs to ensure military backing (The Philippine Star, June 30)
* The next move (The Manila Times, June 29)
* Police, military reaffirm loyalty to Arroyo (Inquirer News Service, June 28)
* What’s the alternative? (The Philippine Star, June 28)