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Jan 26

Face of the opposition

My column for today is Face of the opposition, in which I suggest that the weakness of all those opposed to the President is best addressed by finding two leaders to rally around. In my view, those leaders are Senators Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. and Rodolfo Biazon.

Another opinion piece that makes for timely reading is Manuel Buencamino’s What time is it? His concerns echo mine:

Because the man on the street, unlike academics and ideologues in their ivory towers, does not live by manifestos and reform agenda alone. He needs to see a face. Experience has taught him that who is as important as what.

Second, although some of us enjoy large followings, none of us, so far, is acceptable to all of us, and worse, some of us will actively oppose some of us. This is not the time for personal agenda. This is the time to concentrate on restoring the rule of law. No one can run for president while Gloria Arroyo occupies Malacañang. First things first.

First things first is to find a face for the opposition.

Still, it’s useful to ponder the philosophical issues, such as when Patricio P. Diaz in Mindanao asks, Where lie the solutions?

Even as the fallout from the Council of State has been confusing: Jove Francisco reports on the conflicting statements from the President’s people, which has been echoed in reports that alternate between blind optimism, suggestions of disagreements, and even more involved speculation, the President’s visit to Camp Aguinaldo has helped fan the flames of speculation concerning the loyalty of the armed forces (scuttlebutt was, the head of the Presidential Guards quit; instead, reports are he’s asked to be reassigned, or that he has been axed).

Tony Abaya takes a hard, and skeptical look, at possible military motivations (even as Lito Banayo reminds readers the military is just like civilians in their concerns):

What do this repeated rumors of coups and their repeated postponement tell us? They tell us that a) the same group of people are behind these persistent efforts; b) the coups are continuously being postponed because the plotters cannot recruit a critical mass of military officers to carry it out; and c) there is no public outcry from among the middle class in support of such an enterprise.

Individually, the Magdalo officers may be motivated by the purest and the most patriotic of intentions to bring about substantive changes and reforms in the Philippine military and in Philippine society as a whole. But they need to think through the implications of what they are trying to achieve and the direct beneficiaries of their course of action.

Gail Ilagan also takes a skeptical look at the military.

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16 comments

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  1. joey

    Nice article Manolo, w/ all due respect is it not to early to be campainging for candidates now.
    Just when I saw the names I almost knew the logical endings.Biazon has the military & civilian representation.Another version of FVR.
    Magsaysay,it’s obvious.The name speaks for it’s self.
    Are they really what is needed to give the opposition a face?
    In the lenght of time Biazon has been in the Senate hopefully to protect the soldiers interest.All I ever remember Biazon doing was reporting or squelling the sentiments of the soldiers.I don’t remember him doing much needed legislations that helped the military not to be in a sorry state as it is today.W/ his power & funds, what has he really done?
    I hope Manolo that the opposition can be in a position to indeed give better alternatives & be able to bring the debate to pros & cons of issue & stop the trying hard line.If they have nothing to say that is constructive, then…

  2. Rizalist

    The Magdalo are not as close to the example of Gringo and the RAM’s military adventures in the 80s as they are to that of Angelo Reyes in 2001. The act of withdrawing support from Joseph Estrada was a quintessentially political act, not a military one. The Reyes Mutiny is even sanctioned and made Constitutional by Estrada vs. Arroyo (March, 2001), even though the 1987 Charter states clearly that no active military officer may participate in partisan political activities. True Edsa II was not an election exercise, but Gen. Reyes had every expectation of a REGIME CHANGE as direct result of his own actions.

    From a legal standpoint, how can Civil Society now condone what Reyes did as an act of political freedom by a citizern-soldier, yet disdain the same on the part of the Magdalo?

    Either Reyes and the Supreme Court were wrong in 2001, or they must accept that they have created a HIATUS in the Constitution by that 2001 decision and grant that there are circumstances, not spelled out in the 1987 charter, when soldiers may somehow exercise the ultimate politicial right of withdrawing CONSENT TO BE GOVERNED.

  3. joey

    Abaya’s article seems to be very objective.
    I can only pitty Trillianes for acting like a “salesman”. Makes me wounder where he get’s the courage to think that he is presenting a better alternative to GMA.he and his gang are really desperate!His like trying to sell a condo that is not only non exsistant but does not even have any plans & drawings.
    Who in his right mind would trust a misguided idealaist coup plotter w/ a gun in his hand.
    It’s an accepted fact that the military has problems.Just like every other Goverment Institution has problems.Then why should their problems be a cause to slow down the countries development?it seems that their only interest is to exploit the problem for their own distorted ideals.
    What is the reson for their arrogance?Is it because they have the capability of violence?
    It’s also true that it’s a problem that they among themselves are in the best position to solve their problems.
    It also proves that they have nothing to contribute to solve the problems when they where an active part of the military.maybe because they where not intelegent enough to adapt & translate what they learned in theory & thought that the world should adapt to them.
    I’m sure the Military has an Honor code but it’s not being honored.
    It seem’s that it’s the mistha mentality that supercids everything else.
    It’s really a serious waste of money at the PMA investing in people & turning them into idealist for the wrong cause!They should give back every centavo goverment spent for them because in their greed they are depriving others an oppurtunity that can be put to better use.

  4. fencesitter

    i’m finding it hard to post for comment. i wonder if the rest are experiencing the same thing.

    my previous post which i could not see here was actually a question – what circumstances at this point can magsaysay, if he is really the guy,become the leader fo this forsaken nation since logical replacement, granting that gma will be rpalced by any method of change, under the constitution, is by the vice president.

    because if we could not think of any method by which magsaysay can be respectably raised as the leader, then the observation of rizalist is correct that this seem to be early for a campaign

  5. fencesitter

    i’m sorry, it was joey not rizalist

  6. joey

    Rizalist,If the SC sanctioned the Reyes act in 2001, don’t you think we should leave it at that & get on w/ our lives?
    Since the SC is the Institution that is supposed to resolve matters w/ finality.Is it not wiser to show the SC some respect.They are the ones who are supposed to be the experts in the Law.
    I just read the article of Pat Diaz,Where the solution…,
    I woundered why people can be so against a system that will save us the troubles that we have been having in the Presidential system.
    In a unitary parlamentary system we have the flexibility to change a bad leader w/o having to bring down the house & put other people in unfcomfortable situations.
    Should we not be more concerned to looking at ways & systems to address cronic problems that we have insted questioning everything & anything that either we can’t accept or understand.
    I’m sure that anyone w/ evil intentions will exploit the weakneses of democratic institution & the SC will always be targeted.
    It’s sad that we don’t seem to be a country that values Nationalissim nor patriotissim.
    Maybe it’s just an impression.Just that everybody always has an axe to grind or knows it all.The starnge thing is we are always in the bottom in the community of Nation.

  7. Rizalist

    MLQ3, No one seems to dispute the fact of systemic corruption in the Military. So what IS the duty of a SOLDIER who discovers widespread graft and corruption going on in the AFP or the PNP? I would think at the very least that he must become a whistleblower…

    Now I don’t really know how it happened with the men of the Magdalo…But do you remember that sometime before the Oakwood Mutiny happened in July 2003, Lt. Sg. Trillanes and President GMA met in a hush-hush predawn rendezvous arranged by his PMA classmate (?). What role that meeting played in subsequent events has never been clear to me. I do know from Trillanes testimony in the Senate that he was MAD at GMA after their meeting, but he never said why.

    Looking back on it now, I have a theory why: Lt. Trillanes and Co. had been supplying the President with certain bodies of information and live INTEL about the corruption in the Military and getting promises of action and structural reform from her. But maybe they HAD to mutiny when they discovered she had BETRAYED them to the very Generals, like Comptroller Garcia and his gang and who were then preparing to move against them in various ways. I think Trillanes left that meeting fuming mad and called for the mutiny because he had gotten confirmation of GMA’s treachery on them at that meeting…

    I know this is pure LITERATURE on my part. But doesn’t it explain an awful lot of things happening even today?

  8. mlq3

    sure does, DJB

  9. joey

    same here fencesitter,it takes time before it gets posted.

  10. jhay

    You really can’t blame the common Pinoy for looking a face to turn to, our country is still a feudal one. We still strongly feel the need to be guided by a leader and so if there is none, it’s no work or everyman for himself.

  11. gari

    aha!

    now, i know that it was manolo quezon who is the source of biazon’s inspiration in making rounds of dialogue in the entire manila railways.

    hmmm…why not but is biazon really the face that could launch a thousand reforms and innovative programs?

    we don’t know yet but i think, in my humble opinion, people is not yet ready but there’s a possibility.

    as of to jun magsaysay, he blinks and seems at lost how and where and why pindown the fertilizer scam to the presidency.

  12. Rizalist

    Joey,
    It’s true I’ve become more Paguia-esque in my attitude to the Supreme Court as time has gone by and certain decisions have not yet been struck down. But let me address your statement that the Supreme Court is the institution “to resolve matters with finality.” Strangely enough this assertion is true only until a future Supreme Court nullifies it. There really isn’t a permanent thing called “the” Supreme Court, and no decision of the Court is literally FINAL. That is the way it should be because the Law is a living thing. If no one has said it in history, let me be the one: The Law is human society breathing. My favorite example for why this SHOULD BE is slavery in America, which the US Supreme Court upheld for nearly a cnetury until the Civil War and Negro emancipation. And then there is this quotation from Justice William O. Douglas (another fave)–Your forefathers were men of peace; but they preferred revolution to to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forebearance but they knew its limits. They believed in order but not the order of tyranny. With them nothing was “settled” that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were “final” — but not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men, for they seized upon eternal principles, and set a glorious example in their defense. Mark them.

  13. dodong

    For the 1st time, I agree with Rizalist. Let Supreme Court do its job. Our justices have compulsory retirement unlike US justices, so in time contentious decisions will be nullified as new justices will be appointed into office. But you have let the well established democratic institutions do their works.

    For now, both Senate and Supreme Court is against tinkering with the constitution. And it should be that way. Justice may be grinding slow like in the reversal of the negro as “non human”. But it brings stability to the nation and maturity to the people.

  14. mlq3

    gari, dahil kay joc-joc yun.

  15. joey

    Rizalist,there is no argueing w/ beautiful sounding idealistic words.I’m sure the men who wrote those words have every right to be respected for what they did for their time & context.
    They spoke of bondage.Makes me wounder what bondage do we experience when all those opposing can even convince the majority to move.When even the magdalo can’t get their act together.When the magdalo,men w/ guns & violence ask the help of the CBCP.Talk about strange bed-fellows! Maybe they want to do a “holy war” now!
    I’m aware that there are more people who are more sensetive then the others.
    It’s not farfetched that the very same words that you proudly highlight are the very inspiring words used by those we brand rightly or wrongly of being misguided idealist.
    Those who are causing us more agaony w/ their promises up in the clouds.
    Rizalista, w/ all due respect.I really cherish the people who are doers & make their action speak for themselves.
    I cherish the people who show strenght in charcter in not allowing themselves to be swallowed by the winds & noise that constantly distruct us from our goals.
    I think the strenght of a person is in his capability to understand that change starts w/ himself.The world won’t wait for him or adjust to him.
    A person is as good as he can inspire people in universal values.
    Rightly as you said, the Law is a living thing.Leaveing things means growth, dynamissim.Question is, are we really growing in these changing times?
    I think that in a country like ours we should be very black & white.The SC is the SC & the buck stops there.
    We can also be philosophycal about things.But will it help?
    Is what we read & study preparing us to face new challenges?
    Just as life has a begining & an end so do issues too.Because there is such a thing as “moving on” & not loseing precious oppurtunity.
    We can’t leave our lives because of what others wrote or said.
    Yesterday Manolo wrote about the face of the opposition.Maybe before we think about the face of the opposition.We must first think of the “face of the pinoy”.
    Who is the pinoy?What does he want?What is it he can give & not get for his country?
    I too leave in this imperfect world.I too see many things that makes me ask why.But must I relate everything to bondage,slavery & oppression?
    We are a country w/ many problems.In building a nation one needs people who works produce & deliver.
    We need people who know that the law may not be always fair but it’s the Law.You don’t wanna get in trouble w/ the Law.Then treat it w/ respect.
    sorry for righting to much.

  16. Vic Sanoy

    Truly, any poet can have that inspiring lovely words, and words can move men to do honorable as well as evil things. I am just glad I live in a country which thrive in less words but more deeds. Our Preamble to our l982 constitutions sum up only in one complete sentence which sound like this. “whereas we recognize the supremacy of God and so and so period,,” and our ammendment cna be downloaded in 17 pages complete. But we are a FIRST NATION, a member of G-8 and the Only country with a surplus in national Budget. Less words more work.. Guess what country that be..

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