, March 17, 2006 (MANILA TIMES) By Ronnie E. Calumpita, Reporter - SEN. Edgardo Angara on Thursday warned that the next four months would be critical for President Arroyo because he does not see the political situation stabilizing.

In a briefing Angara cited the constitutional amendments to be pushed by the House of Representatives and the end of the one-year ban on the filing of an impeachment complaint as key factors that will again give rise to political turmoil.

“Beginning April, when the House pushes its constitutional plan, we are going to have a constitutional crisis because it will create a serious problem between the House and the Senate,” he said.

The House and the Senate differ on the recommendations of the Consultative Commission that reviewed the Constitution for provisions that need to be amended.

The ban on the filing of an impeachment complaint expires in July and Angara expects “another round of impeachment petitions that will generate political turmoil between the presidency and the legislators.”

“These could very well be tipping points that can spark an explosion or adventurism,” he said.

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, on the other hand, is certain the threat against the Arroyo administration will again heighten during the celebrations of Labor Day on May 1, Independence Day on June 12 and when the President delivers her State of the Nation address in July.

Militant groups and the political opposition usually hold rallies against Mrs. Arroyo on a holiday or during the days immediately before the holiday, like they had planned during the People Power anniversary on February 25.

Curbing adventurism

To deal with adventurism, Angara said the government must address the grievances of the military, particularly the young officers.

He stressed the responsibility of government leaders and lawmakers to remind the military of its proper role under the Constitution after its spokesman, Col. Tristan Kison, said the Armed Forces can make or break the government.

“We must now pay special attention to the needs of the ordinary soldier, otherwise the divide between the military and civilian leadership of this country will become wider and the polarization may become unbridgeable that it will result in what everyone seems to be afraid of—a junta,” Angara said.

Reacting to news reports that influential personalities were funding military adventurism, Santiago said it is an extremely dangerous game to try to bribe the military with money to topple the government.

The danger lies in the possibility that they could be successful in installing a junta, Santiago said.

Estrada’s ‘donations’

Former President Joseph Estrada has been accused of giving “donations” through a foundation to the Magdaló, the group of soldiers who mount­ed the Oakwood mutiny on July 27, 2003.

Santiago said Estrada has already answered the allegation, saying the money was his Christmas present to the soldiers.

People who finance dissidents are gravely mistaken if they think they will be the ones who will lead the country after a junta is installed, Santiago said.

“History teaches that if the military joins the enterprise to commit rebellion or coup d’état it will not go out of the Palace anymore,” she said.

Santiago cited Myanmar, which the international business community considers a pariah because it is run by a junta.

She said the best way to counter the practice of paying the military to launch coups is for the President to increase the soldiers’ salaries.

Raise soldiers’ pay

“The main problem is that our military can easily be bought because of their extremely low pay. The President should immediately address the problem of raising the salaries of the two component sectors of our society, first the military and the police and then the schoolteachers, because they are very active during the elections,” Santiago said.

She chided the Armed Forces for claiming it’s the only institution holding the nation altogether.

“That is really silly and fatuous. The military must be tempered by an intelligent reading of the Constitution; it is not intelligent for the AFP to claim it holds the nation together. It is the rule of law,” Santiago said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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