In the British civil war, Charles I raised his banner to rally his loyal nobles to the royal cause. The President has raised her banner or standard. Her statement, in a fiery speech to the nation over the radio, can be summarized as follows (full text not yet available)
1. She did not cheat; she will never surrender; she will not resign. She rejects a Truth Commission, because the truth is staring us in the face -the “debilitating effects of the feelings of disgust and dispair in our society…”
2. She has dismissed the cabinet. She will form a new one, she’s asking the public to nominate names. She wants a new coalition.
3. She will accelerate changes to the Constitution; she wants federalism. She challenges Civil Society and all concerned sectors to rally to her to save the country.
She further said there is, in essence, a systemic failure in our country; that the middle class is voting with its feet; that the only solution must be, not an Edsa, but a change in the structures of the country. Her new cabinet will be given a “free hand” in running the government while she attends to charter change. PCIJ transcribed the speech.
This was a speech true to form, harsh, angry, blunt, the kind of speech she should have delivered instead of her speech of apology. It comes at a politically-superheated time.
Scuttlebutt today was that Secretary Purisima of Finance, upset over hearing the Palace had engineered the Supreme Court TRO, was prepared to resign over the weekend. Cooler heads prevailed. But the so-called doves in the Cabinet, apparently upset over the one step forward, two steps back approach of the President (sending her husband, but not son, and brother in law away, delaying the announcement of a cabinet revamp, etc.), were reportedly poised to resign. This would be followed by Cory Aquino and the bishops suggesting she should step down. The Palace got wind of this, and began an effort all day today to keep the cabinet members from quitting; failing that, to pre-empt them, by dismissing the cabinet. She dismissed the cabinet. On ANC Sec. Raul Gonzales just said the consensus was for the President to resign.
It was a masterstroke, throwing Civil Society into confusion, and everyone else, too. Will people gamble on allowing the President to preside over the changes that many want anyway, or, having dug in, and basically raising her standard to rally the troops, will they surround her, and protect her, and fight for her? Can she be trusted to keep her word, and is her anchoring her decision both on God’s will, and a defiant proclamation of her innocence while refusing other reasonable demands -Truth Commission, Comelec and cabinet changes- antagonize formerly supportive groups?
She has, in American terms, bet the farm. It’s go for broke, all or nothing, do or die. Question is, will the military view it as worth it to keep the peace? Will a suddenly emboldened opposition take this sitting down? Will Civil Society lick its wounds and roll over? And are the moves of the provincial leaders to rally around the President being done with a solid constituency? Will this throw a damper on things, or kindle the flames?
All I know is that this is the President I wanted to see, unafraid, sure of herself, daring and demanding, instead of the one we saw when she apologized. And again I must wonder, is it better late than never, or too little, too late?
A sign: Chiz Escudero: the President blamed the people, blamed the country, but the fault is hers and she is the problem; she cannot speak for the world; she knew the reforms required, and so why is she only initiating them now? This is a sign of desperation. The country needs a leader it can trust, and she is not that leader. Was the President’s gambit the Ramos solution?
Torn and Frayed pointed out my appeal for the center to hold, was influenced by Yates; here is the poem, with all that it may portend:
William Butler Yeats – The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity…
If you have the time, please read a long article I wrote almost ten years ago, The Long Road to Edsa I, it will be helpful to bear in mind in the coming days.