February 02, 2006

Of coup plots and rumors

Like it or not, plots and rumors of coup d’etats are here to stay. And it’s not simply because military rebels have found a legal justification for what is generally considered an unlawful act by invoking the 1987 constitutional provision stating that “…(t)he Armed Forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people and the State.” (Article II, Section 3)

First of all, one has to differentiate real coup plots from coup rumors. The latter are in fact resorted to by some enterprising former and even active military officers who make a quick buck by peddling fake coup plots to enemies of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Some generals also resort to hyping coup -- also called “destabilization” -- plots whenever they wish to leverage something, usually a promotion, from Malacañang. This is much the same way the threat of the communist insurgency is deliberately exaggerated during yearly budget deliberations in Congress.

The fact is, however, coup rumors would not be taken seriously at all – either by the government or by the public -- if there weren’t the very real possibility that a coup was indeed in the offing.

So the reason the rumors thrive is that the plots are real. And they are real because they find rich soil in the rotting institution that is the AFP as well as in the moribund political and social system that the military establishment is sworn to uphold and protect.

We pause to differentiate among the possible types of coup plots brewing in the light of the current severe crisis of political leadership and the worsening of the intractable economic crisis the nation is experiencing under the Arroyo regime.

There is the threat of military rebellion by patriotic and pro-people groups and elements who are disgusted with a Commander-in-chief accused of assuming the presidency through fraud and deception; who are scandalized by the rampant graft and corruption among the military top brass involving billions of the people’s and ordinary soldiers’ money; and who are conscience-stricken at being utilized to repress the people by committing grievous human rights violations against them in the name of counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism.

Moreover they see no hope in genuinely reforming the military institution they are sworn to serve when they are confronted with the continuing cover-up perpetrated by the chain of command for generals accused of such high crimes as plunder, electoral fraud, syndicated crime, and worse, extrajudicial killings and state terrorism.

One indicator of the seriousness as well as the strength of the anti-GMA, patriotic and pro-people sentiments in the military can be gleaned from the AFP high command’s pronouncement, at the height of a series of calls in July last year by former allies of Mrs. Arroyo, for her to resign. It was an affirmation of loyalty “to the people and the Constitution” and not a specific and unequivocal pledge of allegiance to the Commander-in-chief or even to duly constituted authorities.

It can be interpreted as a guarded statement intended to preserve the unity of the AFP in the light of widespread sentiment in the armed forces favoring what appeared to be the impending downfall of the Arroyo regime. It is also an unmistakable signal that even the military high command can withdraw its support from Mrs. Arroyo any time given the proper conditions and circumstances.

Then there are the anti-GMA, pro-US military officers who are only interested in booting out Mrs. Arroyo and her cabal of civilian and military loyalists because they think they can do a better job of preserving the tottering status quo. They wish to seize power for themselves or their civilian patrons and expect to consequently reap the rewards of their audacity, no matter their self-serving motivations. The US has no problems with their taking over since they do not threaten US interests nor do they challenge US interference in our internal affairs.

Of course one must not discount the very real possibility of a “palace coup” or one that will be undertaken by the pro-GMA, pro-US chain of command in order to prolong Mrs. Arroyo’s illegitimate hold on the presidency or provide for her graceful exit according to terms acceptable to her.

The point is, coup plots and rumors are both symptoms as well as by-products of the deep-going political and socio-economic crises wracking our country today. Therefore the likelihood of a repeat of the type of military rebellion that we witnessed in People Power 1 and 2 exists.

We, as a people, have to recognize this situation and deal with it as objectively as we possibly can.

We need to understand and to discern that the patriotic and pro-people groups and elements in the AFP are justified in defying their chain of command – all the way up to the Commander-in-chief – in order to uphold and protect the people’s immediate and long-term interests.

Such patriotic and democratic officers and men as well as women in uniform who refuse to be pawns of the Arroyo regime and who seek true reforms within and outside the military establishment need all the encouragement and support they can get.

On the other hand, we must also be able to differentiate, criticize and ultimately reject the opportunist elements and groups in the military, especially those who merely mouth the call for reforms but who in fact have dubious motives and unsavory track records. They seek to utilize the people’s discontent and rising resistance to the Arroyo regime as a means to gain power but in the end, they intend to prevent the people from exercising real democratic power to bring about the fundamental changes they aspire for.

The looming progressive movement of soldiers, young and middle-ranking officers and some senior military officials must find its way to linking up with the vibrant struggles and the nationalist and democratic movement of the people.

Only in this way will military rebellion and intervention redound to the people’s interests and lead to a better life ahead for our long suffering people.

Feb. 2-3, 2006


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home