Fearless forecasts

The fundamental question is: What, really, is happening? The short answer may be: The President has decided to ride the tiger.

While it pleases Malacanang to think that the President’s real constituency (or the index of her performance) is the economy, it seems more and more difficult to escape the conclusion that the real source of her mandate is the armed services. Let me rephrase that: It seems that the President thinks the real source of her continuing mandate is the support of the armed services.  She may still have a solid grip on the House of Representatives, she may continue to draw sincere and effective support from the local governments, but — at least from the way she is acting — she thinks the military and the police form her real constituency.

1. If this reading is true, then we can expect more arrests, or more harassment, of above-ground Leftist leaders. The President has tapped into growing concerns in the AFP about the scandalous success of Leftist party-list groups (scandalous to both the rank and file and the officer corps, because of the perception that pork barrel funds are used, in part, to finance the insurgency). The crackdown on Crispin Beltran, Satur Ocampo, and their colleagues in Congress, therefore, is part of the price for continuing military support.

2. We can also expect relatively lenient sanctions against Brig. Gen. Danny Lim and Marine Col. Ariel Querubin. Being stripped of command of an elite combat unit is not exactly the equivalent of 200 push-ups, but compared to the possibility of a court-martial, it is almost a pat on the back. Note that official AFP explanations of the conduct of these officers are careful to limit their liability: They had not plotted a coup, or even threatened to withdraw support from the President; they had merely informed the higher-ups that there was such a plan to withdraw support. At best, they are guilty of sympathizing with the planners. (Querubin, of course, has to answer for another transgression: complicating the issue by bringing civilians into the picture.)

3. We can expect the President to lift Proclamation 1017 before the Supreme Court rules on it. (We can also expect the President to render EO 464 inoperative, if she gets wind of an adverse high court ruling against it.) The pattern seems to be: Implement controversial measures as though they meet constitutional requirements, then withdraw them if an adverse legal ruling is imminent. This cat-and-mouse game favors an aggressive (and thick-skinned)  executive.

4. But Proclamation 1017 will continue to fuel restiveness in the ranks. I cannot quite believe that the bright boys in Malacanang do not see this; rather, it seems to be the case that for them restiveness in the ranks of the military is an acceptable risk.

5. The weighing of risks, of course, leads us back to the tiger of military intervention. Contrary to what the AFP top brass has been saying, a crack seems to have formed in the Armed Forces.



Filed under Readings in Politics

4 responses to “Fearless forecasts

  1. DJB

    Great point John! I’ve been told, the SC held continuous 24 hour sessions on Proc. 1081, for 3 or 4 days b4 issuing the infamous Javellana decision. The Supreme Court, especially with Panganiban at the helm (he seems to really be the demiurge of judicial putschism on the High Bench), has become a willing accomplice in GMA’s autarky.

    Which is why I am convinced we must expose the Supreme Court and its members for who and what they are. They are hiding behind the respect and dignity given to all Supreme Courts in real democracies. Yet who are these people? They are just like the two-bit consiglieres of the political mafias that run the country. It is Padre Faura that should be a principal target of the democratic opposition as far as substantive journalism is concerned.

    I am afraid the Supreme Court must be razed to the ground — figuratively speaking of course — if we are to restore democracy. We cannot allow the widespread notion that the Supreme Court is like the Roman CAtholic Church’s Magisterium.

    This unspoken, unexpressed NOTION is the most dangerous anti-democratic myth that exists in our polity. It can only be demolished by a difficult route of education and rhetoric and a deep understanding of democracy. Even if we get rid of the Autark, it is really the High Court, with its activist and theocratic philosophies (Panaganiban(2002): “The Philippines is monotheist.”) that must be cleansed.

    Otherwise the cat-and-mouse game may never end, even in 2010. An institution is not the frail men in it, that is a principle we have yet to establish in this land.

    But we shall, or we shall perish.

    Btw I hope I am wrong: but somehow I think she will see lifting 1017 as a sign of weakness, like Al-Qaeda withdrawing a letter of OBL. I think she knows she now has mortal enemies who will never, ever stop until she is put firmly in her place in History: F-MINUS.

    I thought Gani Yambot was like a cornered rattlesnake the other night and wasn’t buying that Ronald Solis’ naive notions of journalism. So quit rattlin’ and start publishing everything you guys know. Freedom House must not downgrade us to the UNFREE because the economic consequences of that will be incommensurate to our true state. Civil society must prove it can cleanse itself even of its erstwhile allies. It must prove it understands the eternal principles of democracy. Because it is that which lies in the hearts of the people, though they are mute and cannot express it. It is the ability to express those inexpressible truths for them that I think true journalism lies.

    Monday’s PDI editorial was an example of that. Saludo!

  2. DJB

    ps, I think Joker Arroyo may not quite agree with your analysis as he predicts a more severe declaration of martial law, since 1017 has not worked to slam down the opposition

  3. Jojo

    Hi John, whatever the outcome is will not depended entirely in Manila. None of the actors in the current circus has taken into consideration the provinces. To refresh ourselves about how the balance of forces outside the imperial capital looks like, we might want to recheck the political map the Inquirer prepared during the impeachment hearings, to wit:

  4. Chabeli

    Watch what happens when PP 1017 is lifted.

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