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Friday, November 30, 2007

In Retrospect: The Standoff

In hindsight, was the Manila Peninsula Standoff really intended for us, the Filipino people? If it were spontaneous as Sen. Trillanes claims, then it was doomed to fail. People will never come. Were you and I the audience he seeks? I doubt it very much as I view the incident as an avenue for a different purpose. From a military point of view, you will never "invade" unprepared.

So I think it was not meant for us. Trillanes is a soldier and he would know, the people will never come without the proper information. Even the opposition was caught off-guard by his action. His move has a deeper motive. Was it a test case, was it a balloon to test the sentiment of the people? Maybe, maybe not, I think we will find out in the days to come.

Missing yesterday was the coming out of major service commanders to show their unquestioned support for the incumbent. The downplaying by the military of the incident as a simple police action only proves that there are rumblings in the military. DOTC sec. Leandro Mendoza's order to closely watch the ports and airports supports this theory. It only shows that there indeed a broader support for Trillanes in the armed forces. The constant loyalty checks also supports this theory. Was the move by Trillanes meant for the military? We all cannot simply dismiss this outright.

I am sure that professional soldiers will at all times adhere to their constitutionally mandated roles. They know the limits of the doctrine of the chain of command and what constitutes legal and moral orders. These soldiers will question anything that is unlawful. This is the cause of continuing military adventurism. Soldiers will follow but will have lingering questions in them.

That fact that independent and professional generals never make it as chief of staff proves that a strength of a president(?) relies heavily on her relations with the military leadership. This practice have been questioned by disgruntled officers since far back as I can remember.

On Coups And Its Components

Coups of the violent nature will never succeed in this country. People will never subscribe to a militarist view. The fact that violent coups in the past were widely condemned and never supported only shows that a violent option for a takeover is doomed to fail. People power however is a different animal altogether. Civilian-led moves had been successful. But for this to succeed need a series of worsening events. Gloria's situation is of this nature.

The questions of her legitimacy continue to hound her. The corruption scandals and the blocking of legal avenues to resolve these questions could escalate things. Ninoy Aquino's assassination merely started the ball rolling for Marcos's downfall. The real spark was the cheating in the snap election. When an administration resorts to subversion of the constitution and curtailing of civil liberties, then it will be prone to coups and civilian upheaval.

The administration's reaction yesterday may have some legal basis to a certain extent. Its actions to resolve the incident may have been proper. But it failed miserably to paint a picture of stability. The small details such as the hauling of the media, "dragnet" style will not sit well in the eyes of foreign press. The cuffing of clergy and senior citizens is unsettling to some. The imposition of the curfew has sparked questions of its legality however justified the imposition maybe.

So it seems we have not seen the end of actions like the one Trillanes took. It has exposed the frailties of the current dispensation, whether it be its political image or public relations. What is clear is that there is growing public dissent. The continuing discontent should not be discounted. Accountability is still the order of the day. Gloria's remaining years will be the ride of her life. Whether she will be finally ousted will depend on how fat her wallet is. What awaits her beyond 2010 is uncertain. She has only two options left, a shift to parliamentary form or a declaration of martial law. Exile is not an option, she will have to face the music eventually.

One statement resounds, Gen. Danilo Lim summed it all up. "DISSENT WITHOUT ACTION CONSENT."

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