March 24, 2006

Unholy alliance?

Sometimes the truth comes out quietly in a most unexpected manner. What could be more ironic than it should now come out straight from the horse’s mouth albeit quite unintended.

After months of repeatedly telling the public that the military chain of command is intact, that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is solid in upholding the constitution (and, presumably, the Arroyo regime because the official line is that it is still the duly constituted authority), the AFP Chief of Staff now admits matter-of-factly that we should expect more coup attempts in the near future.

General Generoso Senga, in a recent speech before the Philippine Constitution Association acknowledged that “the alliance between the military and the leftist rebels to oust Mrs. Arroyo has been deepening for over two years now and will not be uprooted in a single stroke.”

Notice that the good general used the words “alliance” and “deepening” to describe the relationship between what should be two diametrically opposed forces. These two are generally understood to be “sworn enemies” by ideological, political and military orientation and further hammered in by decades of unceasing armed conflict.

A curious, if not critical mind, may ask: Is this alliance really about an agreement to jointly undertake a much trumpeted “left-right coup plot” or is there more than meets the eye?

No less than General Senga describes it as “deepening”. Does this mean that the growing alliance stems from some kind of meeting of the minds regarding not just the overthrow of the Arroyo regime but why this is necessary, desirable and justified enough for the two heretofore opposing forces to suddenly become attracted to one another?

The political grapevine is rife with speculation that this dialogue has gotten to the point of discussing not just tactical matters regarding who or what will take over after Mrs. Arroyo has been booted out but more strategic concerns such as what basic political and socio-economic reforms shall be forthcoming under the new dispensation.

Especially in the light of the fact that on one side, there is the CPP/NPA/NDF that has been waging an armed and unarmed struggle to realize its comprehensive political program and has even entered the risky arena of peace negotiations without abandoning its revolutionary principles and struggle.

On the other, there are the military rebels coming from the experience of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement/Soldiers of the Filipino People/Young officers Union (RAM/SFP/YOU) who figured in the first EDSA uprising and the Magdalo group who made their presence felt in the Oakwood mutiny of 2003. In both cases, these military rebel groups have called for some measure of reform both within the AFP and the government as a whole.

So is the motivation simply to grab power as Malacañang and the top brass would make as believe? Are there no legitimate grievances within and outside the military establishment that is riling the men and women in uniform and causing them not just to mutiny but to enter into what is deemed by Malacañang as an unholy alliance with the dreaded CPP/NPA?

It has been said that majority of the soldiers and even young officers come from the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder of our society, experience the travails of the poor and barely surviving masses and thus have the seeds of rebellion planted in their beings.

While true, such rebellious impetus still requires awakening and nurturing. Could it be the case that the undeniable rot coming from systemic corruption, syndicated crime, barefaced utilization by vested political interests for partisan ends and the brutal counter-insurgency campaigns is now wreaking havoc on the AFP, causing it to break apart and for the rank and file and young officers to become susceptible to more radical alternatives?

The official propaganda line is that the poor, idealistic military rebels, who presumably lack the capacity for independent thinking, have merely been conned by opportunist politicians or some such cabal of civilian backers and financiers. Lately it is the CPP/NPA that is supposedly singing the siren song of rebellion to government troops.

The claim is that these forces are the ones who are “politicizing” the AFP and that this is anathema to a “professional armed forces”.

The solution therefore is to immediately contain the virus of rebellion by punishing suspect military rebels more harshly this time around and run after their civilian backers.

Thereafter the troops must be immunized from the evil importuning coming from outside the AFP by conducting seminars on “Knowing Thy Enemy”, a virulently undemocratic indoctrination material produced by the AFP that labels all critics of the Arroyo administration as “communist” and therefore fair game for the death squads run by the General Palparans of the AFP and the Department of National Defense.

Deliberately beclouded is the long tradition of the AFP as the armed defender of an elite-ruled and oppressive status quo presided over by a series of governments, including the Marcos dictatorship and the current Arroyo regime, that have repeatedly failed to address the underlying causes of social conflict in this country but chose rather to deal with them using deception and the muzzle of the gun.

If that is not being “politicized” of the highest order, we wonder what is.#


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