The Tiananmen Dilemma

The other night I watched a documentary based on “The Tiananmen Papers : The Chinese Leadership’s Decision to Use Force Against Their Own People – In Their Own Words” (Perry Link, Orville Schell) which is a fascinating book. The documentary had a heart-stopping moment (for me, at least) when the footage being shown showed one of those walls on which the protesting students pasted their manifestos, slogans, and articles they found inspirational. One of the items was a xerox copy of a book about People Power, complete with the famous image of nuns kneeling in front of Philippine Army tanks. Definitive proof that People Power in 1986 was among the inspirations for the students protesting against the Chinese government (just as it was an inspiration for those protesting against the Warsaw Pact Soviet satellite governments). The Chinese government was faced with a dilemma: call in the troops? And do what, if the public is opposed to the troops? At which point might calling in the troops result in the troops shrinking back from orders to shoot civilians? And yet, if you aren’t prepared to shoot the civilians, then they win by default.

It’s therefore important to examine the question of what is decisive in a People Power event: is it the people, or the military? Or: what makes a coup different from People Power?

In 1986, Juan Ponce Enrile, Fidel V. Ramos, and Gregorio Honasan planned a coup. It was exposed, and was in the process if being crushed, when Enrile et al. holed up and pleaded for help. Prior to that, a gigantic crowd had already materialized in Rizal Park claiming victory for Cory Aquino, who called for civil disobedience to bring down the Marcos dictatorship. Marcos, in reaction to Cory’s call, was prepared for a long and bruising fight, but one which he was confident of winning. The opposition didn’t quite know how long it would take, but were also hopeful of eventual victory. The failed Enrile coup changed things.

Left to their own devices, Enrile and company would almost certainly have ended up arrested and liquidated as part of a larger crackdown that would engulf the political opposition. Cardinal Sin threw his support behind the rebels, calling for the people to save them. The people rallied to that call, in which others like Butz Aquino joined in. Cory Aquino kept her distance, among other things, to see how the situation would evolve, and to avoid being dragged into the preferred scenario of Enrile and friends, which was a junta in which Cory Aquino would have a token participation.

Marcos made a show of not wanting to hurt people, going as far as to publicly scold Gen. Fabian Ver, while continuously ordering, in private, the quick elimination of Enrile and the suppression of the crowd. This put the armed forces in the uncomfortable situation of having to contemplate massacring civilians, which, if they were composed of Communists would have been OK with them, but since the crowd included the middle class, nuns, priests, and so forth, all of them unarmed and offering flowers and sandwiches to the soldiers, was something they weren’t used to. The public, too, reacted to the prospects of physical danger with genuine courage. Military resolve faltered and further lobbying led to defections. Thus was People Power born.

In January 2001, the armed forces had been lobbied by the opposition, and the armed forces itself, after the traumas of 1986 and the coups of 1987 and 1989, was not interested in the possibility of soldiers having to fire on fellow soldiers. Up to the second envelope incident, most people were expecting a slow boil and a long, drawn-out fight: either Estrada would be acquited, which might trigger something, or he might be convicted, which would settle matters, too. The Cardinal again called the people to rally, and people showed up: though this time the element of danger wasn’t present because Estrada was not the type to order a violent dispersal, and because the armed forces had resolved not to have to face a violent dispersal order, in the first place. Cory Aquino, the Cardinal, the Supreme Court, the military and the politicians also decided to head off the attempt by the Left to play a defining role in People Power by closing off what should have been the inevitable consequence of People Power: a revolution.

In May, 2001, Estrada loyalists and their allies capitalized on a public outpouring of sympathy for Estrada by calling for People Power, but it seems their objectives were muddled: was it to spring Estrada out of jail, or simply to whip up popular support for the elections? The military, for one, were not about to reverse themselves so soon after abandoning Estrada. But neither were they prepared for an uprising that went beyond the past, well-organized demonstrations. Either from ambivalence or a lack of familiarity with handling People Power, the Estrada group kept stoking the rage of the protesters while holding back from unleashing them; this gave the government enough time, for example, to convince the Iglesia ni Cristo (standing in for the Catholic Church in this particular model for People Power) to withdraw its support and cut off coverage. When, finally, either intentionally or accidentally, the crowd was unleashed, the military was unprepared for it. The protesters swamped the police and military defenses, and a certain amount of tactical thinking seems to have been applied, which is why Civil Society found itself besieged in Mendiola and the PSG found themselves defending from within the Palace itself, instead of the defensive perimeter that had been established as the base for operations since at least 1989. I am still convinced that greater command and control on the part of the leaders could have led to a situation resulting in the President having to flee, or the Palace actually being invaded; but in the crucial hours, enthusiastic but lacking leadership on the ground, the protesters were held back until reinforcements from the provinces finally arrived -then there was a manhunt in the environs of Santa Mesa and Sampaloc. What could have happened if the protesters were better led, and more of an effort made to try to convince the military to defect? Or was that prospect closed off the moment Edsa Tres turned violent?

Since May of 2001 of course, the government and the military have learned their lessons. New gates have been built, pushing out and strengthening the Palace’s security perimeter. As much as possible, no crowds have been allowed to form close enough to give the crowds a tactical advantage in storming the Palace. All routes to the Palace have been fortified: the manner in which the protesters in January 2001 rolled over the police massed in defense of Mendiola bridge was already the first lesson; the manner in which protesters mauled policemen on Nagtahan bridge and rolled over outposts on JP Laurel St. and Mendiola in May, 2001 was the final lesson. But this closes off the traditional, post-1986 People Power model. That is, things cannot start with a crowd.

But a crowd can still come into play, if you revert to a traditional coup model, or if you attempt to institutionalize (or is operationalize?) the 1986 model. You can decide things simply by force of arms, which means you only need a greater concentration of firepower than the defenders of the Palace can muster, and neutralize them further through a combination of air and possibly naval power. Then you present the politicians and the public with a fait accompli. Or, you can decide to hole up somewhere, proclaim the rebellion, and encourage defections while hoping the public will respond to your call by surrounding you. This was, in fact, the Oakwood Mutiny model, but it foundered because of the scatterbrained approach of the rebels, and their apparently being deprived of civilian support by the rest of the military preventing civilian reinforcements from either gathering, or arriving.

But if rebels learned in 1986 that the civilians can save them; if they learned in 1987 and 1989 that the civilians are suspicious of them; if they learned in January 2001 that the civilians welcome them if they take a back seat to the civilians; and in May 2001 that the civilians are meaningless if they lack disciplined and committed leadership; and furthermore in 2003 that they cannot succeed if they are fragmented and because of that fragmentation, the civilians can be prevented from reaching them: then you have a new model, in which the military will only want to move, if it is fairly cohesive, that it cannot simply follow the civilians, but instead, must goad them into action, and you are in the midst of a modified 1986 scenario.

And here lies the important distinction: the military, by themselves, can never decide the issue, just as the civilians, when it comes to toppling a government, cannot do it by themselves. A fine balance is required: but it’s a balance even more difficult to achieve, because so many individuals, not to mention groups, have to be involved.

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    • Carl on January 22, 2006 at 1:56 pm

    Randy David has his take on the tragedy of people power:
    http://news.inq7.net/opinion/index.php?index=2&story_id=63721&col=60

    With Manny Pacquiao’s great win and the SEA Games medals still fresh, there won’t be an appetite for coups or people power just yet. Two thousand years ago, the Romans had already observed that circus trumps bread anytime.

  1. hi manolo,

    i am a semi-retired broadcast media journalist (circa 1986) and an avid reader of your column and blog as i find them insightful.i was one of those “hostaged” inside MBS-4 during the so called EDSA Revolution of 1986.In fact,I was the last one who went on air over Good Morning Manila with the news update before rebel forces led by Col Mariano Santiago took over the station.

    Twenty years after, i still maintain that what happened then was not a revolution since there was no real substitution of a news system of government. Tell me if i’m right or wrong. Also, i might add i think it would take blood on the streets for a complete change to happen or to achieve a cathartic effect. something like the canao ritual they perform to cleanse the spirit of a person or a nation.

    • cvj on January 22, 2006 at 6:15 pm

    Apologies in advance, but…will everyone who favors a bloody revolution to achieve that hoped for ‘cathartic effect’ please step forward and offer themselves up and/or their own families as blood offering so we can get this meme over and done with? I can’t fathom why otherwise normal people, especially civilians could be so glib about life and death matters – as if a single human life is worth another’s psychological change in disposition. Let me suggest a cheaper way… hit the books and read all about the Filipinos who were victims during the struggles against the Spaniards, Americans, Japanese and the Marcos Dictatorship. Ordering up a bloody revolution is not like setting up a computer demo or something. Let’s count our blessings and RTFM, please.

    • mlq3 on January 22, 2006 at 6:57 pm
      Author

    hi thelma, thank you very much for visitng my blog and reading me.

    1986 was a revolution in perhaps the most basic sense -toppling a government and replacing it with a government not provided for in the rules. it was a revolution in the sense that the british call the fleeing into exile of james ii the “glorious revolution,” and also in the sense of the fall of the manchu dynasty and the fall of nicholas ii. they were replaced with governments that were democratic in comparison to those that came before. did the public want a new system? it seems they wanted a return to the old -premartial law, that is, with some modernizing twists. this was a fight resolved in edsa but which was fought from 1983 onwards, when the minority opposed to marcos had their ranks increase due to a middle and upper class that suddenly decided ninoy’s death meant collaboration had to end.

    very many people think blood on the streets is necessary to move the country forward. but who will decide who lives and dies? or do we mean some token sacrifices, the way so many not necessarily radical people think shooting lucio tan would put the fear of god in many delinquent sectors?

    • fandong on January 22, 2006 at 7:18 pm

    in the philippine scenario, i think all the politicians should be lined up and be shot. the likes of de venecia and other politicians are the ones responsible for our dire situation now. iam very sorry but i feel so hopeless now that this corrup policitians led by gma are lording it in our country. i feel so desperate that i want to experiment the cambodian solution.

  2. I think that those who fanatically believe that bloodletting is necessary will come forward. Who are they? Might be the soldiers who have been disappointed and disillusioned by the system. If they act, then they have the training and discipline to achieve their goals. In the current situation, it will be military against military. Civilians will be spectators, and their deaths will be due to accident and due to being usisiros…

    • cvj on January 22, 2006 at 11:14 pm

    There are points in history when entire societies seem to lose their good sense and start to entertain self-destructive thoughts. Usually, it’s after a long period of relative tranquility. A well known example is in Europe in the period between 1870 and the outbreak of first world war. The Europeans at that time actually looked forward and welcomed the start of the war. Only later did they realize it’s implications. Maybe for many, too much peace can be boring. Mix this with the Filipino society’s seeming fascination with the narrative of the Passion and the Resurrection, plus it’s long-term exposure to local ‘Dirty Harry’ type movies and you arrive at this all too common irrational and illogical sentiment.

    As far as cathartic effects go, it seems that what needs to be purged from the Filipino psyche is a streak of misplaced bravado, self-righteous judgemental attitude and cavalier regard towards human life. Certain characters may be patently evil but they will eventually meet their end in their own ways as will everyone of us of course. In the meantime, let’s make the most of our brief existence by not adding to the sum of human misery. On this note, it’s strange that the Faeldon web site is one that currently advocates civil disobedience. My guess is that there is a negative correlation between those who are quick to advocate bloodbath as an option and those who have directly as opposed to vicariously experienced injustice and suffering.

    • mlq3 on January 23, 2006 at 12:11 am
      Author

    cjv, you should have a blog, you are such a sensible and wise person, it makes every post a pleasure to read.

    • cvj on January 23, 2006 at 12:54 am

    mlq3, thanks. quite a thoughtful and engaging community you’ve got going over here. We all don’t necessarily agree with one another (which is a good thing), but there is always something new to learn. we are grateful for your (and spam karma’s) continuing hospitality.

    • Carl on January 23, 2006 at 8:52 am

    I don’t believe Ninoy Aquino’s death per se meant collaboration with the dictatorship had to end. Ninoy had been largely forgotten by the younger generation of that time. And a large segment of the older generation still remembered him as a mischievous trapo, adept in the dirty tricks of old politics (to which a reborn and repentant Ninoy himself later admitted).

    Ninoy’s murder was the vivid image seized upon by the upper and middle classes because they were devastated by the economic crisis that ensued after the country defaulted with the IMF, which also happened at that time. The peso had crashed to a third of its value vs the dollar (from P7 to P20/dollar). To contain inflation and speculation, the central bank had to raise interest rates to over 50% p.a. (severely scorching big, medium and small businesses). With almost 70% of purchasing power up in smoke almost overnight (imports like fuel, vehicles, spare parts and even food items determine a huge chunk of costs), the middle class, especially the salaried and pensioners, were badly hurt. Big businesses were also hurting because interest rates were so high and sales were very slow due to people holding back on spending. This was why Makati became ground zero for the protests and why the business sector and the middle class seized upon Ninoy Aquino as a symbol, when in fact they were never really comfortable with Ninoy while Ninoy was still alive.

    The problem with seizing Ninoy as a symbol is that, while Ninoy went through a rebirth and had adopted Mahatma Ghandi as a model, his own family, friends and associates did not undergo such a profound change. His own siblings and in-laws were still trapos at heart. That is why, as soon as they came into power, it was business as usual. It was still the old trapo ways. The alliances among the different sectors were shallow and for short-term convenience. The sincere ones, like Chino Roces and Pepe Diokno, soon found themselves estranged and disillusioned.

    • joey legarda on January 23, 2006 at 9:31 am

    For clarity sake, there is no relation between blood on the street & moving our country forward.
    Moving the country forward depends on us.It will only happen when we free ourselves from many things that hold us down.
    Blood on the street is something we should pray & hope never happen.
    We should also be very careful so as not to unwittingly be any part of it.

  3. I cringe at the thought of war; it’s no picnic. But then how do you excise a cancer eating at your body bloodlessly? EDSA 1 & 2 was relatively peaceful because Marcos and Estrada were not as tenacious; compared to GMA, the two proved patsies. GMA will not buckle down even if the country goes burning, mark that down. By now one should have a generous inkling of what elements are made of that prayerful Catholic doctor of economics.

    • cvj on January 23, 2006 at 12:57 pm

    ricelander, not an easy question to answer, but just as in the case of the Tiananmen situation recounted above, whether or not to resort to violence should be the dilemma of government, not the people. In the case of Marcos, no one was sure whether he would be tenacious or not. That’s why being at EDSA (and Tiananmen of course) involved genuine courage.

  4. Apologies in advance, but…will everyone who favors a bloody revolution to achieve that hoped for ‘cathartic effect’ please step forward and offer themselves up and/or their own families as blood offering so we can get this meme over and done with? I can’t fathom why otherwise normal people, especially civilians could be so glib about life and death matters – as if a single human life is worth another’s psychological change in disposition.

    Okay, read this then.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20020206231755/http://malaya.com.ph/jan16/edtorde.htm

    • joey on January 23, 2006 at 4:35 pm

    ricelander, in the real world before new ideas & products are presented.Lot of simulation test are done.Lots of serious thinking goes through a rigid proces.Failure is never an option.Because there is serious money & names involved.
    Why can’t we be as prudent when we deal w/ human lives?

    • jhay on January 23, 2006 at 5:25 pm

    I agree, cvj should put up a blog, his comments are the ones I look for right after sir manolo’s entries, and I really mean those compliments.

    Tell me if I’m wrong but blood being spilled would one way or another be necessary for this country to really move on. It’s in the culture or nature of the Filipino na kung kailan nasaktan, saka kikilos. Tragic it may seem, and should be avoided as much as possible, but it is the only way for things to move forward, like in a dialectical process of thesis vs anti-thesis to form a synthesis.

    It’s called being a masochist right? Or masokista(including the spelling? ;))

  5. For major players in this “game”, plans have already been drawn as can be seen from the link John Marzan has provided. Each side must be given due respect that whatever their plans are, they have prepared it well. At least the best as they know then can. But in real life situations, those who are asked to pull the trigger most of the time change their minds. Only those who are fanatical about following orders (in the military) do so.

    Only those who believe in the “correctness” of their roles, will do the killing. May it be right or wrong to others, it doesn’t matter.

    • cvj on January 23, 2006 at 10:43 pm

    If John’s analysis above plays out, then blood may indeed be spilled whether we like it or not. Although i can’t tell whether the two Mikes were/are just displaying bravado, it’s still prudent to take in John’s fair warning. Of course, these gentlemen have to likewise be prudent since they can’t really be 100% sure in which direction the guns will point if and when they give the order to shoot. Unlike Erap and Marcos, one thing
    i don’t see is GMA being surrounded by die-hard loyalists.

    Thanks Jhay – one of these days will try to get organized. As of now, it’s seems more fun to be on the ‘consuming’ side of the weblog experience. On the necessity of blood being spilled, in a past comment, Carl recounted (in the 3rd paragraph) what happened as a result of one of those ‘cathartic moments’ in our history. No reason to see why the effects of blood in the streets would be any different this time around. It would just be another
    roll of the dice in terms of the kind of ‘synthesis’ we’ll end up with.

    • dodong on January 24, 2006 at 1:35 am

    Segurista!

    Panfilo Lacson and his armed men could have resisted and fight the military who turned against Estrada in January 2001. The country would have been better if Panfilo Lacson died right there and then. He is a spoiler. Even if GMA cheated, FPJ still would have won if the opposition votes were not divided by Lacson.

    To large extent, Filipinos are like Panfilo Lacson a “segurista”. You don’t see blood spilled in the past and not in the very near future. Because like Lacson, he has a lot of smart ideas except serving his life on the platter.

    • cvj on January 24, 2006 at 9:06 am

    Here’s the link to Carl’s past comment (referred to in #18 above): http://www.quezon.ph/blog/?p=782#comment-8368

  6. Here in Hong Kong, the Tiananmen is remembered every year with gathering at the Victoria Park where those who were against it don’t want to forget what happened. They bring their young ones with them and teach them of what happened, their version anyway.

    The names of the triggermen are not mentioned, same with the names of those who ordered it. What is remembered is the event itself. And looking ahead, they don’t want it repeated. But year after year, less and less people are joining in this remembrance activity where they light candles and wear black shirts…

    In the same vein, if indeed blood will be spilt, the effect in the long run will not be much compared to the bloodless ones we’ve seen in Edsa 1 and 2. But who’s to know? What happened in France, China, Romania, can’t really be used as a reference for what will happen and the longterm effect if it happens in the Philippines.

    So the argument that the Filipino will mend it’s ways and change for the better if revolution brings some deaths is debatable. And since this is something that we can’t test by trial and error, we don’t have to do it ourselves, we just have to look and learn from what happened in other countries.

    But then again, how many Filipinos have known of them? Much more learn from them? Our history, and general nature (of being forgetful and forgiving) will again come into play. How many Filipinos are still angre at the Japanese for example? Or to the spaniards? Filipinos will forget even bloody revolutions!

    • Geo on January 24, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    Coups, violence, bloodshed — all pretty bad ideas. But — barring any new, earth-shattering revelations — any such mass bloodletting will only begin by anti-administrationists showing up on the streets. (I don’t find it likely that the admin will attempt a “self-coup”, while the anti-GMA groups have been unable to whip up enough popular frenzy for the government to feel they need to pull a Tiananmen vs civilians.)

    I doubt that the general population wants violence. Polls and common sense are against it (despite mlq3’s claim above that “many people think blood on the streets is necessary to move the country forward”. “Many”???). Too dangerous, too unpredictable, too much of a gamble for a nation which is trying to solidify and propel forward.

    Trillanes said that the options are to be pro-GMA or pro-reform. But if the being “pro-reform” really means being pro-violence, I can’t imagine how his group could get significant popular backing.

    The choice will most likely come down to GMA leaving the Presidency peacefully (impeachment, resignation) or everyone just moving on…and hopefully then concentrating on reforms (that are acceptable to all or most). It’s really the same set of choices that people have faced for months (since the anti-GMA camps never succeeded at promoting a unified, sweeping reform platform).

    Violence creates more of a mess. Reforms improve things. We should be arguing about which reforms are beneficial…that’s the first step forward in the right direction. And there’s no reason to insist on just GMA/Lakas/LGU’s reforms; they should ALL be looked at.

    The pro vs anti GMA argument can take it’s own (peaceful) course, but the more important debate is: “What reforms are good for the whole Philippines?” A resolution of the former issue need not be inherently linked to the resolution of the latter. Letting a stalemate on the former issue prevent progress on the latter (or result in violence) is more than just a shame…it’s potentially suicidal in the global scheme of things.

  7. the filipino people is caught between two horns, too. on the one horn are the abusive and cheat gloria, the schemy de venecia and ramos. on the other horn are the faces of estrada, lacson, binay and their ilks. the middle force is without a face. so the filipino people is perrenially left to choose the lesser evil.

    • jhay on January 24, 2006 at 3:45 pm

    Keep us posted when you do get organised sir cvj, really looking forward to your blog. Though I agree that it is sometime more fun just to “consume” the blogosphere, most of my own new entries are born from the comments I post in the blogs I read. It’s like i’m a diesel engine that needs to warm up before it really gets going 😉

    GMA would definitely be unlike Erap and Marcos being surrounded by loyalists, she’ll run out of money sometime soon. And with the developments of LAKAS’ political musterbation with CHA-cha wherein GMA clearly double-crossed JDV and FVR, she better keep a sharper eye out for herself.

    • dodong on January 25, 2006 at 12:56 am

    Thank you, Fencesitter. Filipinos are always divided and it brings inactions or paralysis.

    If you ask my Filipina officemate about Gloria, she would respond why made bruhaha of Gloria coz she cheated and she is a woman? Everybody in politics cheated! She dared to ask of any Philippine President who is a saint. For her, it is better to have Gloria than FPJ, Lacson and Estrada altogether. She despised those three as stooges for the elite.

    Also, the more men are bashing Gloria, the more people are taking the sides of her. Filipinos have affections for an underdog especially a woman.

    There is nothing telling more of state of paralysis than people who think EDSA is history and mass demonstrations and protests are useless.

    • Carl on January 25, 2006 at 10:19 am

    Funny article about politicians in the U.S. I guess they’re the same everywhere!
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11009379/

  8. Carl, all politicians are the same. In a way, majority of us are when it comes to supporting or rejecting an issue or a cause.

    We have a saying in tagalog which goes this way, “Kung gusto hahanap ng paraan, kung ayaw hahanap ng dahilan”.

    But going back to this blog entry(Tiananmen Dilemma), when life is in issue, the rules are changed somewhat. That’s why my personal stand on things where there is uncertainty is just to prepare my mind (and body). Then make decisions/choices when needed. Preparation might help you make a better/informed decision. In a way, joining discussions in blogs like this prepares us on what we’re going to make.

    • Geo on January 25, 2006 at 11:19 am

    dodong,

    The “state of paralysis” has little to do with the general public. The people have a variety of opinions (their right), but the vast majority have indivually chosen not to take the streets (their right).

    The paralysis has everything to do with the Congressional politicians. They have a variety of opinions (their right), but they are producing very little legislation (their duty). I find it appalling, for ex, that the Senate passed only 5 bills last year…never mind how both houses have been tackling the annual budgets, nor how they side-stepped their responsibilities in making a firm decision on the EVat tax.

    (I write this as I watch the lower house (in the Wiretapping Probe) quarrel about each other’s lack of respect for proper decorum, etc…..)

    If you ask me, the burden for any blood on the streets will rest on the politicians’ shoulders (as well as, obviously, those who actually spill blood or order such actions)…especially since the majority of the population is very much against the use of violence.

    The “paralysis” and any coups are NOT being instigated by the public, they are NOT viewed to be in the interest of the general population and they do NOT reflect the will of the people.

    I think that is a pretty important consideration to be weighed and respected right now.

  9. dodong,

    people power or protests have abnormally lost their meaning because of Gloria.

    i may not trust personalities like lacson, estrada et.al, but i think something must be done about the abusive and cheat gloria. she had done wrong (she is still doing a lot of wrong), she must go.

    a strong and decisive middle force might stir the people again from the present paralysis.

    • Geo on January 25, 2006 at 1:31 pm

    fencesitter,

    You obviously feel that GMA has done wrong and you believe she should be ousted. Fair enough — you have a right to your opinion…despite the lack of hard evidence to support it (or to clearly refute it).

    But you also claim that there must be some abnormality which has rendered the people into a state of paralysis. That is also an opinion. In this case, however, there IS hard evidence available to be used in evaluating your hypothesis.

    After the Garci tapes emerged, the oust-GMA group tried to get people to streets in big numbers. Didn’t happen. Once the oust-GMA group decided to go to Congress — and failed in the impeachment attempt — they again tried to evoke massive public protests. Didn’t happen. Black & White, People’s Court, etc tried the same. Didn’t happen.

    No one forced all these people to stay at home; they could have chosen to go to the streets. You call this “paralysis”…presumably because the majority of the electorate didn’t react the way you think they should. But their actions speak volumes — it seems that they simply do NOT want to resort to mass demonstrations. Rather than term it “paralysis”, perhaps it’s time to recognize that they have made their CHOICE — the people don’t want unconstitutional processes to “resolve” the situation.

    It is also notable that the major institutions/bodies of the country (the Church, Military, Congress, Business, LGUs) have reacted the same way as have the middle class and the massa have. Whereas each group contains both pro- and anti-GMA factions, each group also didn’t come out in force and demand GMA’s ouster…either as an official statement representing their group, or as private individuals representative of the majority of such a group.

    I propose that the term “paralysis” you use is not as apt a definition as “a concious decision to not take action”.

    Seems like the people have spoken.

    Now those who don’t like what they have heard — and who are convinced that GMA has committed serious illegal acts — are talking about waking up or stirring up the people. You mention that perhaps a “strong and decisive middle force” will do so. But the facts to date have shown that the odds of this are slim.

    So what’s the next choice? Possibly introducing guns.

    And that’s what I think (and it seems the vast majority feel…according to polls and actions) is dangerous, wrong and almost assuredly counter-productive.

    In the present situation, there is no reason for the administration to be the ones to introduce mass violence a la Tienanmen; only the anti-GMA forces who reject the majority will (no violence, constitutional changes only) have any motivation to do so…essentially via a coup.

    So one might characterize this situation as a choice between evils (GMA vs coup)..and the people are forced to choose amongst the lesser of the evils. But at this point, I think the options are peace vs violence…and the people’s choice is clear.

    Once that becomes obvious to all, hopefully everyone can go back to loud-but-peaceful anti- or pro-GMA debates. (And as I have made evident elsewhere, I think that specific argument can go on as much/long as anyone wants…but the real debate of importance — about electoral, political and economic reforms — can and should proceed unhindered.)

    • Happy on January 25, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    Frankly speaking, Edsa 1 nor Edsa 2 did not succeed on achieving long-term peace. It didn’t fix all the problems of the nation. People just wanted to overthrow the president due to the strong influence of a few well-known personalities. Cory just got lucky, while Arroyo was the fortunately the successor.

    We have to remember that what would really help the country progress is if we all become united. If we could only have discipline and each of just do their best to improve their lives and be responsible citizens, Government officials just doing their jobs, no politicking, our development as a nation will be swift.

    In the end, we are always the ones who gets affected with the after effect of coups. The harm that it cause our econoy directly affects us. Like how? Investors becomes hesistant on investing. Sometimes, they even move to another country which they feel safer.

    • Happy on January 25, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    wrong spelling. it’s hesitant, not hesistant. sorry guys.

  10. Geo,

    I do not have to be repeating myself just to show you I know the specifics where my mouth speaks.

    The most important issue here is that Gloria cheated her way to malacanang. evidence? the garci tape, the i’m sorry speech and the move of government to bribe the congressmen to kill the impeachment. as i have said malacanang started this all by showing supposedly two tapes- spliced tape and the genuine tape (Gary). Base on this alone it was already a tacit admittance by malacanang of possible wrong doing. Were they not guilty, Bunye was really out of synch in coming out with those tapes.

    The eo 464 and the use of government resources just to buy loyalty of politicians may be corollary issues, nontheless, they are equally appalling. evidence? ask juan miguel luz. the venable contract which the government could not explain. not to mention the buying of witnesses to withdraw their testimony against the members of the first family in hueteng invlvement. evidence? ask bishop oscar cruz. and if news today are be believed, billions of money recovered from the marcoses reamin unaccounted or were used not for the intended purpose.

    “abnormality which ahs rendered the people into a state of paralysis”. i do not know what you mean by this statement. These are not my exact words.

    People power or protests have abnormally lost their meaning because of Gloria. which means that one reason why people are not propelled into mass action, no matter how much we want her out of our lives, is that Gloria who was suppose to carry the ideals that our mass action stood for, has disappointed us. Gusto ko mang maalis si gloria may takot pa rin ako na baka ang pumalit sa kanaya katulad din nya. Well, i may have the right to believe that millions of us carry this kind of attitude which in a way causes paralyis.

    And how the meaning of people power which has been the inspiration of many youth in other parts of the world not only in tiananmen square but perhaps in the crashing of the Berlin wall has been degenerated by todays politics by assigning meaning like “reckless gambles at power”.

    • a de brux on January 25, 2006 at 6:45 pm

    By their recent pronouncements and press releases (“Fire for fire”, coup intent, etc.), members of this Gloria-led administration of thieves and political clowns including her military’s armpit generals are propagating and challenging the Filipinos and the rebel factions in the Armed Forces of the Philippines to stage an armed revolt.

    This is what we call destabilization.

    This illegitimate government that has been accusing people in the Opposition, people like you and me of distabilizing this already distabilized government is guilty of treason.

    The nation should come to their senses – the very same people in this government of thieves headed by Gloria and her rough operator of a husband, Mike Jose Pidal Arroyo and their rotten boy Mike Defensor are the very people who are threatening to utterly destroy an already very wobbly republic.

    The media should expose the recent pronouncements by Mike Defensor, Bunye, idiotic DoJ chief Gonzales, General Senga (a.k.a. Gen Tanga) as disstabilization moves by Gloria. Her motives are evident.

    The media and the few intelligent people left in the country (what with over 8 million or so Pinoys of better caliber having left the country) should train their guns on this corrupt government before it transforms the country into a Rwanda !

    • cvj on January 25, 2006 at 9:37 pm

    a de brux, agree with 80% of what you said above, but i think the level of intelligence remains the same between overseas and home-based Filipinos..

    • a de brux on January 26, 2006 at 4:18 am

    CVJ,

    Oh, no doubt about it, that is if the ratio of similar intelligence is considered, then you are being considerably more generous than I am.

    For the sake of argument, let’s that we are looking at a figure of 8 million ‘intelligent’ or sensible Pinoys who have left for abroad leaving behind an equal number of ‘intelligent’ or sensible people of 8 million.

    Given these elements, I am forced to look at the following:

    1. Either the 8 million left behind is considered as a factor representing MANY (If that’s the case, with the factor “MANY” representing millions of intelligent or sensible people left behind, why is the country in a state of s__t?).

    2. or consider that number as a very tiny fraction of the current Philippine population because it represents only 10% of the current 80-million population living in the homeland and should be equated to a factor representing FEW.

    I am not a numbers genius or anyone remotely good with numbers but I do see one thing: 10% of a country’s population possessing raw intelligence or basic common sense ain’t enough to carry the burden of a generally corrupt Philippines and make things work.

    Either way, I’m afraid the brain drain is putting the Philippines in a state of mental and moral decay, hence there are few or much fewer sensible people left in the country to counter the evil government.

    But I don’t doubt that the few good people left could make the difference if they have the virtue of audacity!

    These few good ones remaining in the homeland could and should go the extra mile because the future of the republic is in their hands. The other audacious lot is gone for good…

    • cvj on January 26, 2006 at 5:00 am

    a de brux,

    Actually, i was looking at it from the point of view that
    not all the 8 million people who left for abroad are
    intelligent. My guess is that the ratio of intelligent
    to unintelligent among those who have left is the same as
    the ratio among those who have stayed behind. The reason
    i believe this is that the philippines is *not* a
    meritocracy such that what class a person belongs to is
    not really a matter of skill but more a matter of
    accident of birth, in other words,luck. That means that
    you will likely find same ratio of smart/not smart people
    in the upper, middle and lower classes. This further
    means that among the lower class, there is a lot of
    untapped intelligence which we can harness if we can get
    over this systemic roadblock of inequality. That, to me,
    is the key to getting out of this state of s__t.

    This of course is not to deny the real harm done by the
    ‘brain drain’, which does not mean inherently smarter
    people going abroad, but rather, experienced people
    leaving faster than the system can replace them. To
    mitigate this, we probably have to supplement the cycle
    by encouraging inward labor immigration from the
    neighboring countries like China or India..

    • a de brux on January 26, 2006 at 6:57 am

    cvj,

    i guess you are right; the country needs all the help it can get from everyone, chinese, indians, pakistanis, etc. after all, this government is now encouraging and allowing russian, slavic, japanese, korean, turkish mafiosi disguised as tourists to set up (organized crime?) businesses and need to replace the brains and muscles that continue to drain the Philippines of its force, etc.. fast!

    indeed, cvj, one could very well expect this corrupt government to resort to various modus operandi or palliative measures as outrageous as the above – nothing would surprise me anymore, after all gloria and her government have done more atrocious things and got away with them.

    with regard to the best way to get the country out of the s–t it finds itself in, there is not one sure fire solution but the few good ones back home could certainly stop the country’s downhill trek to oblivion by summoning their courage, bravoura, etc. and prepare to go to battle… as Frederick the Great said when rallying his command staff, “De l’audace, de l’audace, toujours de l’audace…”

    • jhay on January 26, 2006 at 8:39 am

    My concern is, that 10% of brain power, skills and moral(?) resource that has left the country has already or is in the process of being corrupted.

    Just dig in the Inquirer archives and you’d find many letters from Pinoys abroad, most of whom are in the US telling us, the 80 million left in the country, to say “So what?” to cheating, lying and stealing.

    Pretty distrubing actually…

  11. MLQ3’s column today at the inquirer gives a definitive answer to question “kung mapa alis si Gloria sini=ong ipapalit?. With Mlq3’s suggestion, finally, the third force has got a face.

    • jonas on January 26, 2006 at 11:54 am

    a de brux, I agree with you the future of the country is in the hands of “good” people. We have had intelligent people in the government in the past and up to the present but where are we now?

    I don’t believe that we’re going to suffer a mental and moral decay as long as those “good” people and the audacious ones in and out of the country will remain loyal and concern to their motherland.

  12. cvj, with all due respect, how can we possibly encourage inward labor from neighboring countries if this country is bereft of respectable job opportunities, which is the reason why most of our countrymen are going abroad.

    • a de brux on January 26, 2006 at 7:29 pm

    Hope so Jonas, hope so!

    • a de brux on January 26, 2006 at 7:53 pm

    This government is insane!

    This Mike Defensor is full of himself to the point of being idiotic – I was surprised that the AFP Chief did not react or say anything to set the record straight when Defensor publicly uttered his insane remarks “Fire for Fire”.

    Defensor is not the press secretary, neither is he the DILG chief nor is he the DND chief, the only civilian components in a government who are allowed to utter such violent military words publicly on behalf of the president.

    Defensor has become abusive! He is overstepping his role as chief of Presidential Management Staff; he definitely has NO BUSINESS speaking for the military or uttering those violent military words.

    In case of actual ‘fire for fire’ scenario, Defensor must be told that he has absolutely NO RIGHT to command or give orders to the military to fire; not even the defence chief has the right to do such thing; the only civilian who could morally, legally, verbally order a military officer to fire on a rebellious crowd or group, military or otherwise, is the nation’s commander-in-chief and the order should be a DIRECT order, i.e., from the commander-in-chief to a military officer!

    Should a “fire for fire” scenario really happens and Defensor goes frontal to give even a semblance of a military order to an AFP officer, Defensor should be shot on the spot, and if a military officer obeys a Defensor order, that should be enough to ignite a revolution in the military from within.

    This government is insane!

    • cvj on January 26, 2006 at 10:39 pm

    fencesitter, the countries where Filipino OFW’s work in do not have zero unemployment but we are still hired because we are needed. Back home, there is unemployment, but there are also labor shortages in specific sectors. It’s a matter of matching required experience and skills versus available supply, and in this case, the relevant unit for making decisions is at the institutional level, be it a for-profit businesses, quasi-public or public sector organizations.

    With India, a real case can be made for synergy between IT talents of both countries. In my work, we’ve brought in specialists from India and in turn i’ve also been assigned to India to do work there as well. In case of China, we can benefit from the infusion of entrepreneurial spirit and closer commercial links with China. We know form our own experience that those who uproot themselves usually do so to actively seek a better life. Having more motivated people working in our islands will have a beneficial knock on effect to the entire system. In the near future, when we become a stable democracy, we will be a destination of choice by the Chinese and other Asian nationals who would seek to escape the restrictions of the mainland.

    Among the qualities that the Filipino should cultivate, i hope that xenophobia won’t be one of them. Considering 10% of us are living as guests in some other host country, that would be way too ironic.

    • Geo on January 27, 2006 at 9:43 pm

    fencesitter,

    My sincerest apologies if I misadvertently put words in your mouth.

    I think we can both agree that we would always wish for the best results for the Philippines and for Filipinos. And we are both frustrated that this simple desire is so difficult to satisfy.

    Have I properly understood/characterized you this time? I hope so…..

  13. Luogo interessante con l\’Info importante! Grazie

  14. Interessando, luogo abbastanza luminoso, penso +5

    • trmadol on January 25, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    I always have terrible trouble with comment-related plugins that require me to put some line in the comment loop; I can never seem to find the right spot. Can anyone tell me where I should put the php line in my comments loop? I haven not modified anything much, and I would be very grateful. Thanks!

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