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Ex-coup leader: Philippines ‘ripe’ for military intervention

Updated On: May 20, 2005

Manila – Despite an ex-general’s failed attempt to ignite a “revolution” on May Day, rumours of an imminent coup continue to swirl in the Philippine capital. One former military rebel spokesman warned that four well-organised groups within the military are looking for a political organisation that would spearhead a coup to stop corruption and growing public discontentment.

    Retired Commodore Rex Robles, former spokesman for the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) that led the overthrow of President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, said the situation in the country is "very ripe" for a "military intervention".
   “It is feasible and workable for military intervention. I am not saying it is good, but it is there because the military rebels continue to grow in number and they are well-organised," said Mr Robles, who was also a member of a commission that investigated the Oakwood military mutiny in 2003.
    He said the name of movie star Susan Roces, the widow of Fernando Poe Jr who claimed to have been cheated by President Gloria Arroyo in the 2004 elections, is often mentioned in discussions among military rebels. 
    Mr Robles said poverty, increased public sympathy for ousted President Joseph Estrada, and the call for reforms have significantly contributed to the growing clamour for change in government. 
    “My feeling is it (poverty) increases the need for change," he said. "We know Erap has a strong hold and this group will tend to increase resentment and will increase sympathy for the former president."  
    Mr Robles said President Arroyo knows about the threat to her government, but claimed she is not getting the "right intelligence" because  intelligence agents cannot penetrate all the military cells. 
    "The government knows it is in danger," he said. "It just does not know the size and threat because of poor intelligence. The government cannot see the size and shape of it. The situation has reached a point where it has a life of its own."

* ‘Four groups in AFP can lead coup try’ (The Philippine Star, May 18)