Sunday, March 05, 2006

Arroyo reaches out to restive troops, ready for talks

dinidinig nga ba ang mga hinaing para gawan ng solusyon? o dinidinig lang para malaman kung sinu-sino ang nagbabalak na bumitiw sa suporta?

Arroyo reaches out to restive troops, ready for talks
First posted 00:56am (Mla time) Mar 05, 2006
By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr. , Dona Z. Pazzibugan

AFTER quashing what she said was a coup attempt against her, President Macapagal-Arroyo is now ready to directly face and talk with the troops, including "disgruntled soldiers."

But she has put on hold proposals for reconciliation with her other political foes, specifically former President Joseph Estrada, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye indicated yesterday.

Some presidential advisers have accused Estrada of giving financial support to the Marines, Scout Rangers and Magdalo soldiers linked to the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and other alleged destabilization efforts.

"I believe the President is ready to hold a dialogue with the different sectors of the Armed Forces, " Bunye said in radio interview, when asked if Ms Arroyo was willing to have a face-to-face meeting with restive elements in the Armed Forces.

Reports of widespread discontent among soldiers have persisted despite the administration's apparent success in warding off adventurism in the military ranks, such as the planned march to Edsa by some officers during the recent commemoration of the 1986 People Power revolt.

Bunye said Ms Arroyo had ordered the strengthening of the feedback mechanism in the military on top of instituting reforms.

"There is a need to provide a quick response to their (soldiers') complaints," he said.

Bunye said it might be some time before the government would extend anew its hand of reconciliation to certain personalities and sectors opposed to the President.

For one, the resumption of reconciliation talks with Estrada would have to be "subject to appropriate timing," Bunye said.

Need for vigilance

The Palace seems to have turned cold to making peace with Estrada. The ousted President has admitted giving funds to military elements but made it clear the money was intended to help them with some of their projects and not to fund any destabilization campaign.

Bunye said that more important than reconciliation now was for the Department of National Defense, the Philippine National Police and the Department of Justice to continue their vigilance until the "tension has subsided."

Two key military officers, Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and Col. Ariel Querubin, have been relieved of their commands in the face of the the military restiveness.

Apparently to justify Ms Arroyo's emergency proclamation last week, Malacanang has released its own account of what happened before the two officers were stripped of their commands.

But the account raised questions on whether they were really the coup plotters some portrayed them to be.

For one thing, according to the Palace briefing paper, it was actually the two officers who informed Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Generoso Senga of the plan of their men to join anti-Arroyo rallies on Feb. 24,

This goes against the expected behavior of coup conspirators, who would normally keep their plans ultra-secret.

Ms Arroyo declared a state of national emergency on Feb. 24 after learning from Senga and Army chief Lt. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon that Lim planned to withdraw support from her.

Lim and Querubin, stripped of their commands of the First Scout Ranger Regiment and the First Marine Brigade, respectively, are now facing investigation prior to a possible court-martial.

Chain of command

According to the briefing paper presented by Cabinet secretary Ricardo Saludo to some 300 junior officers and men in Camp Aguinaldo last Wednesday, Lim and Querubin told Senga on the late afternoon of Feb. 23 that "restive young officers and men planned to join rallies on Feb. 24 to provide critical mass and the armed component to the protests."

"Lim and Querubin said they might not be able to dissuade these troops from their plan, and there were indications that the two may also join them," according to Saludo's paper, titled "Chronology of Conspiracy."

Later, during a meeting with Senga and the Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs, "Lim and Querubin were ... advised to stop troops from joining the protests, but they did not seem willing to do so," according to the paper.

After Lim and Querubin left the meeting, Senga and the major service commanders called up all military commanders in the country to "secure the AFP chain of command and its loyalty," the paper said.

"At General Senga's advice, Lim submitted to the AFP Chief of Staff's custody," it added.

Conspiracy with leftists

Senga later claimed he learned of Lim's planned withdrawal of support from "other sources."

A separate documentary produced by Malacanang and shown to reporters the other day claimed that Lim, Querubin and former Sen. Gregorio Honasan were also involved in a conspiracy with communist rebels to overthrow Ms Arroyo.

No comments: