In Anti-Arroyo allies split as leader walks out – INQ7.net, there’s a rather amusing account of retired Gen. Fortunato Abat walking out of a meeting he helped organize. The government, as usual, is on “red alert,” although the alert is (for lack of a better word) particularly more altert, since coup rumors have been brewing for some time now.
Arrayed against the government, which is suffering from an unprecedented level of unpopularity (which should not, however, be equated with an evaporation of legitimacy; most people can’t stand the government, but their intense dislike still has to be translated to active opposition), are several groups:
1. The so-called Rightists, exemplified by Abat and friends: authoritarian, anti-Communist, anti-democratic. They would like a Lee Kwan Yew style leader, except we lack a Lee Kwan Yew; they want order, and discipline, but can’t discipline their people, as Abat found out in his meeting.
2. The political opposition, composed of supporters of the late Fernando Poe, Jr. and fans of former president Joseph Estrada. The problem is that this very large group is miserably led, the majority of the political leadership simply more interested in exacting (or extorting) political and economic concessions from the existing government, or doing better in the 2007 and 2010 elections. If popular perception views the present administration as a gang of crooks, the leadership of the opposition suffers from the image of being not only equally crooked, but worse, incompetently crooked. They also lack courage: their glaring absence at the front lines, when the supporters of Estrada came close to storming the presidential palace in 2001, is surely remembered by those repeatedly summoned to the streets by these leaders.
3. The militant Left, composed of Communists in government, in the hills, in the universities, in the convents of the religious, and in media, as well as their affiliated labor and student organizations. Their cadres possess what everyone else lacks: discipline. During Edsa Dos, it was their ranks that kept the centers of mass demonstrations filled with warm bodies, and who steadily, and inexorably, kept up the propaganda offensive. Having tasted the possiblities of helping pull down governments, and thus being on the side of history instead of missing it (as they did in 1986 with Edsa I), they still haven’t figured out the other half of the equation: staying in power, after having helped deprive someone else of it. What they overlook, I think, is that their enjoyment and skill in forming purely tactical alliances has also eroded their credibility. They were there during Edsa Dos, they were somewhat on the sidelines during Edsa Tres, now neither side fully trusts them and neither do the masses, which saw them stand aside when people were thrown back from the Palace gates in 2001.
So: it’s administration vs. Rightists; administration vs. Opposition; administration vs. Left; with the permutations, so far, being: administration vs. Left and Opposition; administration plus Right vs. Opposition and Left; administration plus some Opposition versus some Opposition and Left with Right on the sidelines, etc.
Who hates whom more? Does the Right hate the administration more than the Left? Does the opposition hate the administration more than the Left? And who, really, trusts the Left, which was allied with the Right and the administration versus today’s opposition, and which now gladly allies itself with the opposition versus the administration, and the Right?
Most of all, where does the Middle Class stand? Voting firmly, I think, for “none of the above”. Where do the masses stand? I think they’re simply wary of all sides, too. Though if push ever came to shove, the Middle Class might embrace the Right, while the masses would shift to the Left, but not to the extent of really risking their lives. In such a case, the Right would have a marginal advantage, as the Middle Class is capable of risking itself while the Masses prefer to not take too many risks: the elite leads everything, Left, Right, and Middle, anyway.
Still, today’s rallies provide all sorts of opportunities. Not least, for rumor-mongering. Just a while ago, GMA7 was on red alert due to a bomb threat; one of its vans was stopped on Mindanao Avenue, so that a bomb team could inspect it. False alarm, but as the day wears on, tempers will fray and the lurid side of our collective imagination can take over.
There seems to be a sense among media people that something is in the offing, but that the something isn’t fully formed. There is, however, a window of opportunity what with May 1 falling on a Sunday and tommorow being a holiday, too. There is much room for mischief tonight, which could spill over to tommorow, when Joseph Estrada goes to the Manila Hotel for his mother’s 100th birthday party.