In a sense, Malacanang only has itself to blame for the newly revived specter of martial rule.
It was last week, on the very anniversary of Proclamation 1081, that Executive Secretary (and former general) Ed Ermita chose to announce the new get-tough policy on street demonstrations. (Or perhaps the better preposition is "against"?) For quite a number of people, the timing already constituted proof positive.
That day or the day after, I happened to be reading a passage in Brian Magee’s bracing memoirs about the use of metaphor in argument. We do it all the time, of course; I certainly do. In a disconcerting way, it can be quite effective. The problem that the philosopher-broadcaster-writer-member-of-parliament wanted to solve was whether metaphor, which has its own logic, can be validly used in argument. (The full answer, if I am not mistaken, may be found in Chaim Perelman’s one-of-a-kind classic on argumentation, a copy of which Dean Mariano lent me to read about 10 years ago.)
The point? It occurred to me last week that, because of the very nature of argumentation, the coincidence of anniversary and announcement was a powerful "proof." Symbols talk; that’s how people think. It was thus a mistake for Ermita to announce the new policy of calibrated preemptive response (even the cadence is Marcosian, reminding us of Presidential Commitment Orders and the like) on the day that he did. (Of course, the new policy itself is a mistake, a grievous one.)
Because he made the announcement on September 21, many people were persuaded that another "September 21" was in the offing. Strictly speaking, of course, the logic doesn’t follow. But in terms of the challenge of persuasion, the symbol had a logic of its own.