Barracks Sunday

Was at the media forum organized by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines this morning (actually, it was more of a press conference), and wrote something in the afternoon prompted by the discussions, but the Marine "protest"  in Fort Bonifacio has changed the complexion of events completely.

The dangers to press freedom remain real; today, the Armed Forces spokesman added his voice to that of national police chief Arturo Lomibao, saying the government would take over news organizations that do not meet certain "standards." The need for media organizations to band together and protest Proclamation 1017 remains urgent. (I note that the best thing anyone said at the forum this morning came from Conrad de Quiros, who urged journalists not to act defensively, but instead to keep the pressure on.)

The situation at the Marine headquarters, however, reminds all of us that there is much more to the current crisis than the risks journalists face. The role of the military continues to vex the body politic. After Maj. Gen. Miranda asked to be relieved of his command as Marine commandant (an articulate Vice Admiral Mayuga has offered the best take on this version of  events), Marine Col. (and Medal of Valor winner) Querubin triggered the ongoing confrontation by protesting Miranda’s relief.

Querubin has since been "protected" by a group of civilian supporters (including leftist lawyers JV Bautista and Argee Guevara and La Salle official Bro. Armin Luistro); he has also issued appeals for more people support, and aired his hope that the "bishops will not forsake us."

A standoff (albeit on a decidedly smaller scale than on the first day of the Edsa revolution 20 years ago) looks likely, but because the protest site is inside a military camp, and away from a thoroughfare like Edsa, I don’t think people power would be a factor.

PS. Sheila Coronel has already filed three stories on the event. (Wow.)  In this post, she suggests that people power in Fort Bonifacio may prove a complication.

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Filed under Readings in Media, Readings in Politics

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