Saturday, December 01, 2007

Our Shakespearean Tragedy: The One Full of Sound and Fury

If you know an Act of Evil is approaching and you choose not to forestall it, is that Evil?

On the 14th and 15th of November 1940, bombs fell like a fierce storm over the English City of Coventry at the industrial heartland of England. The Luftwaffe--- the German Air Force of World War II had for many weeks before then tried desperately to pound Britain into submission. At that moment in time, Hitler chose to rain his fury not at London but on Coventry.

The people of Coventry lost many of their loved ones. They saw their Cathedral fall, their homes turned to charred ruin. What they didn't know then was that Britain's World War II Prime Minister, Winston Churchill knew in advance of this raid because the secret intelligence center at Bletchley Park was able to monitor and decode German messages.

Churchill chose not to raise Coventry's defenses.

Such is the nature of intelligence. By not forestalling the attack, the knowledge that the Allies had cracked German communications would be instrumental in the long term battle to defeat Nazi Germany.

The Armed Force Chief, General Esperon revealed that the November 29 attempt by Senator Trillianes was known to government:

"Two soldiers reported this to us, and based on that report, they made some declarations of alert or preparations. That explains why in a very short period of time, the Marines were already in Ayala, surrounding the Manila Peninsula," said Esperon.

However, Esperon clarified that even if the military was already on red alert, they deliberately allowed the walkout by Trillanes's group from the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) to the Manila Peninsula Hotel."

This disclosure reveals that the intelligence source is no longer as vital as it was. Thursday Peninsula siege was nothing more than drama to smoke out the perpetrators, invite them to do their worst so that government would be justified to take them down. It is an age old tactic. It shows Thursday's drama as premeditated and just how much miscalculation Trillianes and his cohorts made. But let us not get over ourselves, this admission by Esperon and reading between the lines also tells us that Thursday's curfew was premeditated on the part of the government.

Government knew of the attempt. The Marines were in play, Esperon disclosed. Naturally, they have had many hours, possibly days by which to plan and decide on what to do, what options to exercise. If our minds are dirty enough, is it hard to imagine that curfew was an option Government was dying to use, perhaps as a means to test public opinion and public outcry as well as the reaction of not only the local media but of foreign governments?

There is an age old tactic. Knowing full well of an attack, you let it happen. Let the atrocity of an attack unite a people, spark their determination to side with you. Looking back at all the moves Government did that day, given the debacle of what happened with Media and the raising of the curfew, I find it far-fetched they thought of it from that point of view. It is safe to say that the overall goal was not that but simply to smoke out the perpetrators, to finally crush and discredit Trillianes and his cohorts. The latter worked, but the plan could have been so much more.

This admission of Esperon that government knew in advance of the Trillianes farce gives me no peace, no reassurance that it gets better from here on out. Given all these facts that are coming to light, i have to ask you: what cost has the discrediting and neutralization of Trillianes come at?

The country's image is once more tarnished. The world outside sees this nation as unstable, even if only for a time. The Peninsula has lost millions. How does this affect the staff of the Peninsula? Can you count the ripple effect this will make on the tourism industry? Can you count the effect this will make with local businesses dealing their foreign counter-parts? Not to mention the many hours of productivity wasted by the entire country watching the drama unfold. Our nation stood still that day, how many millions of pesos were lost? Who is going to pay for that?

Perhaps government was not unprepared at all. The ABS-CBN post continued:

Esperon said that Trillanes's military police escorts were avoiding an exchange of gunfire with the armed Magdalo soldiers who suddenly escorted the senator out of the RTC and during the march towards The Peninsula Manila hotel.

He also said that the guards did not give their support to Trillanes.

"The custodians could not fire or do some drastic actions immediately, simply because there was a crowd that was around. And so they had to take into consideration casualties they could possibly hit unnecessarily," he said.

"They went through the walk, unfortunately they created the image as if they were together. The truth was they just did not want their wards to get away," Esperon added.

How do armed men get that close to someone like Trillianes? If government had already known of the plan, they could have had SWAT forces waiting in secret, already in play ready to react at the mere sight of Magdalo troops about to join Trillianes. An officer could have been in station to give new orders to troops guarding Trillianes. It would have nipped the drama in the bud right before they walked out. It wouldn't have made a difference, would it? Trillianes was already under arrest. He was escaping. The police can arrest a man trying to escape, can't they?

Headlines would have been: "Gun battle as Trillianes tried to Escape".

Trillianes would still have been neutralized and discredited right then and there. The impact on the economy minimal, wouldn't it? People would still have been angry at Trillianes, "how dare he walk out and try to escape?"

What is clear is that public safety did not require a curfew. If indeed true then, reading between Esperon's admission was pretty clear: they knew and chose not to forestall. Whether it was unwitting on the part of the Government, or it was premeditated, the fact that a Curfew was put in play with not so much defiance with the public nor of our other Officials just brought us to the brink of those Dark Days of Martial Law.

Maybe it was the shock.

No President since Marcos has dared to use such blatant power. Maybe it is the recurring theme of our age that Cold War-era fears are back with a vengeance like all this Talkin' World War III.
"Master Obi-Wan, not victory. The shroud of the dark side has fallen. Begun, the Clone War has!"
―Yoda (edit added)
Perhaps it is in the interest of Villar and Roxas to clear the air and dispel the dark cloud hovering over the horizon and bring balance to the increasingly growing unstable condition of the check and balance that is suppose to exist between our Executive, Legislative and Judiciary.

The implications of the curfew and the last few days is enormous. Arroyo just validated for herself that she can step over that line at anytime with the right justification and need not call a spade, a spade. It seems, liberty not only dies with applause, it can also die a slow death when we curl up in fear or in our case, apathy. Thanks, Trillianes for your part in making our days grow darker. For the petite Arroyo, she sure carries a big stick and it is full of sound and fury and it sure ain't nothing.