Saturday, February 25, 2006

in state of emergency

UPDATED (with additional links)

Friday (also here: bloomberg, abs-cbnnews, bbc, pcij blog) morning came as a surprise, which shouldn't be.

AM radio was blazing. Troop movements. two words, people are used to hearing in a country where every so often a coup attempt is made and with the exception of the two People Powers, none successful.

As the sun rose, things were still not clear. what was all the hoopla about? no shots have been fired. no camps taken. no civilian casualties. none whatsoever.

crowds had gathered around keysites--- places where protests are common like the People Power Monument in EDSA and like the Quezon City Circle. On a February 25, each year, crowds do gather in these places to celebrate the First People Power. Not a surprise.

Then news reports came that a general was taken into custody for the alledge plot. We will later hear from a news conference live on TV and radio that the same general had approached the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, and discussed matters with him. Something along the lines of marching to EDSA and declaring a withdrawal of support, a euphamism for rebellion.


who in one's right mind would walk up to the Chief of Staff--- the highest ranking officer of an Armed Forces and tell him outright he was walking away from it? no one with a plot to overthrow a government in their right mind would do such a thing. they'd just do it. thats part a formula for success--- a blitz if you will.

an event that apparently started the night of the 24th had quickly held into custody the plotters. well and good, any person of sound mind would answer. yet by morning, the government was in a state of frenzy. they say that the plot has been contained, yet act as if the threat wasn't.

there was no reasuring the public that their government was all right. quite the opposite. proclamation 1017 was signed and signalled a State of National Emergency (full text here from the pcij) was in effect. Threats that Civil Liberties were being curtailed was announced. Even the seizing of property of utilties and media for the purposes of quelling the insurrection. No problem there, its just that if the government was already successful in preventing it, why go through all this hoopla?

the signing of a State of Emergency needlessly flamed people's danger sense. Instead of being able to reasure a public that their government was in control, it did the opposite. It made people scared instead of reasuring them.

The Philippine Government wishes to put the image that there shouldn't be anything wrong. yet a State of Emergency sent a chilling effect around the world (and here: abs-cbnnews). If there was any reason why the Peso fell sharply and the stock market as well, (the former more than the latter) then it is with the declaration of such a State of Emergency. A rebellion was crushed the night before.

If the argument was that there was reasonable credible evidence of more plots, wouldn't it be more prudent to walk people through what the Government already knew? By midday we knew just as much as we did at six am. a plot to overthrow the government was defeated. the Governmen of Mrs. Arroyo did nothing to reasure the public. We didn't even see her live and in action, (corrected) simply a mention of her signing a proclamation. It was through her Chief of Staff who announced such matter in public. Not very reasuring.

The Proclamation only sent a cold shiver into her political enemies and detractors. People already waiting to celebrate People Power were on the move--- because they were already poised to do so anyway! and the declaration only inflamed the situtation. not very good crisis management in the first place.

in a day when a people should have rallied and cheered that their government didn't fall, it did quite the opposite it went to the streets and something more sinister that media has not caught on. people except in makati and in the major places of rallies were apathetic.

by mid day you see, most of my company's people were in the field and with the exception of locking down our office in greenhills because of the rallies, it was business as usual. we coordinated our small office via mobile phones. our meetings went ahead. our engineers in training were doing their work. and traffic was in the streets not because of the protests but because people were going about their work. too bad i didn't bring a camera to upload pictures.

people were monitoring the situtation of course but their mild apathy is brought on by a simple fact: all they wanted to do was work. who cares what drama was happening in the palace or elsewhere. business needed to move forward. in a time when a State of Emergency meant clean streets to protect the population, everthing was normal.

In a State of Emergency one would expect more anxiety. One would also expect to see some gun fire or some explosion. None of that. Then again this is the Philippines, just another drama and today, people will wake up to a whole new level of drama. both sides claim they love their country all they do is drama. shame!


several crackdowns were executed by the Government today. Chief is the raid conducted on the Daily Tribune. Several personalities have been arrested. Even former Senator Honasan has been charged for leading a mutany, three years ago. And it begs the question, why three years ago and why not now?

Former President Ramos was interviewed by Abs-Cbn(and through a podcast) and spoke of his disappointment and is appalled by the Proclamation 1017.

It is still hard to imagine how all of this divisiveness will raise GDP, will improve the manufacturing and agriculture sectors, will boost investor confidence. On one hand, the government's biggest critics have not delivered any sort of thing and begs the question as to their intentions. Granted they may have their own self interests.

in the end, President Arroyo's move has only forced her critics to form ranks, when once they were divided. still it will not be long before the President's detractors will find a standard to rally behind. Proclamation 1017 may give President Arroyo a sense of greater control, but I fear her "good intentions" will not boost investor confidence, will not improve the manufacturing and agriculture sectors, will not improve the lives of the poor. The ironic thing is, all factions claim--- both the Government and its detractors want economic security and prosperity.

Discipline, Justice, Law and Order are important in any Society. I fear Proclamaion 1017 has had the opposite effect. i am shocked at the lack of finese the Government of President Arroyo has done. all this is just surreal. but it isn't.

the same old questions remain. the opposition has to get real and strike back by making more sense than Mrs. Arroyo. and you know what? the man on the street will be the first to feel this divisiveness. the man on the street will be caught in the crossfire. again. poor juan dela cruz. poor maria clara. poignant, it is the common Filipino who loses.

Well meant intentions are good. Gloria has an abundance of that. So does our Opposition. Our outrage at Proclamation 1017 is well intentioned. Righteousness can only go so far but the Opposition to the President's rule must step up otherwise, the Government will crush us. The same things still apply. We need to innovate because the man on the street is as apathetic as our Outrage. We don't have another 20 years to learn.


Anonymous said...

Just a simple background from a simpleton:

Operation Hackle is a shortened form of HAmmer and siCKLE which represents the communist ideals of CPP NPA.
This operation is a broad tactical alliance of the Left (CPP NPA and party list groups) and Rightists (military adventurists) to unseat PGMA from Malacanang.
The Left agreed to this alliance but insisted that they get the head of MGen Palparan, the so called Berdugo ng Mindoro.
MGen Palparan was rumored to have ordered the killings of the source for the Lefts leadership which are the aboveground party list groups. The Left was feeling the pinch for resources (due to being branded as terrorists) and now, leaders for the guerilla forces. I might as well add that the Sison faction Partylist representatives are using part of their pork barrel budget to finance firearms to the communist guerillas.

Majority of the military did not want to join said adventurism since PGMA has prioritized them in terms of good housing and raising their pay. Most junior officers have begun to realize that they willl be used as pawns for said uprising.

Apparently, 300 million pesos was given out for the Oakwook mutiny but only 10 million was received by the core officer mutineers for that operation to succeed. The soldiers were just given fares to go to manila and nothing else. The rest of the money went to the pockets of the organizers. One congressman was able to finance the building of condo units out of his share.

The Oakwood mutineers failed to deliver last time and now they are being pressured to deliver by the organizers. However, even though soldiers and officers wanted to help them , they did not want to participate in a power grab. They too have their families to look out for . Also, they could not help but remember the fact that no military uprising has succeeded without popular public support. This is where the CPP NPA come in, or precisely their party list organizations and other legal fronts.

The soldiers are tired of being used as pawns by interest groups. But they absolutely abhor having a tactical alliance with an old enemy, the CPP NPA. This is where the organizers of the failed coup the other day got it wrong. The CPP NPA is seen as a hindrance to the success of the Philippines as a nation.

Mike Salazar
Filipino soldier

cocoy said...

mr. salazar, you may be right. however, don't you think if the president walked us through such kind of detail the people will not rally behind her? would be more understanding why there is such a state of emergency, why exactly certain personalities are being detained, why media outlets are being closed/controlled? it will not be fear that rules the day but a sense of satisfaction their government is doing something.

the most effective way to defeating an enemy is for the people to rally behind its government--- and they need information. i'm sure there are details the government can not disclose because operations are in place, but i'm also sure there are details of the plot that can be disclosed.

as it is, walking up to the chief of staff and asking him to join a rebellion is just plain... stupidity. the stories are just plain unbelivable and only the commander-in-chief who can exercise leadership can change this perception. i'll bet you if she can convince people that there is clear and present danger even her enemies (at least those who believe in democracy) will rally behind her and it will be the death of the opposition.