Manifestations of Sin

I’ve joined and this is my first contribution.

The papers vie with each other to editorialize on Cardinal Sin: the Inquirer emphasizes life Without Sin; the Manila Times points out he was a Good Shepherd; the Star calls him Freedom’s Shepherd; the Tribune declines either headline or editorial but prints a generally generous story. Sassy Lawyer, who is surely ticked off that the President has proclaimed a week of national mourning for Sin, says he’s dead, so he’s dead, the end.

JB Baylon writes how our country is damaged goods. Incidentally, Carmen Guerrero Nakpil writes an intriguing column on Three Widows: I didn’t know Imelda Marcos issued a call for people to rally around the President! Cory Aquino and Susan Roces, however, have been circumspect.

This brings to mind a point I made in private at the time of the election: Susan Roces would have made a far more formidable candidate against President Arroyo than her husband, FPJ.

Jove writes on how the Palace Press Corps is rather miffed at the way Sec. Bunye tried to pin the blame on them.

A Filipino overseas emails me and suggests,

What’s more interesting is the factional battles inside the military, especially within ISAFP? What gives? This is Class of 1970 and 1971 making their final appearance on the stage and it seems to be quite messy. What’s more intriguing is that Gringo is not a major player anymore, but as you astutely pointed out in the Last Senator Standing, it’s Ping Lacson who appears to be reaping everything. Ping, who is a faction in himself.

The same person asks me if I have any idea how the current crisis will play out.

Last year, I blogged about the prospects of the Philippines turning to the Right. I still think my observations are relevant. But I also think the country is ripe -or more ripe, is it, riper?- for a rightist effort. But first, let’s look at the possible factions and influential groups in play:

The President: Here’s another theory I’ve discussed in private as far back as 1998. Her father’s defeat in 1965 may have been so traumatic that she may have -consciously or subconsciously- vowed that she would never be living proof that nice guys finish last. She belongs to the generation of politicians molded by Ferdinand Marcos, who proved that in politics, as in war, the MacArthurian dictum that “there is no substitute for victory” should be the governing principle in life. Marcos demolished for ever the old idea that a politician’s virtue was measured by his self-control. Instead, Marcos’s defining characteristic was a supreme ruthlessness that succeeded through a combination of luck, good timing, and a breathtaking ability to go farther than anyone thought would be possible.

Estrada: He’s been trying to influence events by proclaiming himself ready for a comeback. He even has a plan, a blueprint. He suffers from the fact that his term ended on June 30, 2004, and the idea he remains in suspended animation as President is a longshot. His true believers already tried to put him back in power; they failed; they won’t risk life and limb considering the Estrada record for running away: from power in January, 2001, from the front of the rebels in May, 2001. The Estrada people, on the main, are the Marcos relicts that tried and tried, failed and failed, to use people power to reverse the gains of 1986, and are failing now to use people power to reverse 2001; as I said, it’s instinctual that those inclined to people power won’t use it to benefit those who were people power’s targets in the past.

FVR: He wants to be president again, but no one else seems to relish the thought. While it’s been rumored he’s been courting the Vice-President, the veep doesn’t seem willing to take the bait, yet.

Lacson: He’s the only one emerging better out of this, but there remain too many (particularly in the Church) that still don’t trust him. He’s patient.

The Church: It fears the Left; it loaths the Estrada camp. It doesn’t respect the President but fears the consequences of jumping into a situation that remains unclear. It is the most dedicated to the principle that those rejected in the past shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy a restoration. It is interesting that when the crisis over the tapes arose, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales was said to be meeting regularly with the people of Cory Aquino. Since the heirarchy has no charismatic leaders, the bishops are stuck trying to muddle through, and figuring out when, and how, they should try to influence events.

The Communists: They suffer from the unassailable logic of those who point out that they’re no better off than the traditional politicians who have no objective but power. Against Estrada yesterday, allied with him today, where’s the principle in that? And the manner they are trying to redefine people power in Socialist terms doesn’t fly with the veterans of people power.

The Middle Class: It has no options. The President isn’t to their liking, but they’ll be damned if they hand power to Estrada, or to the Communists. And the more the Estrada supporters and the Communists make noise, the more the middle class will be inclined to sit this one out. Besides which, even as journalists are dissecting the Mindanao vote, the President’s lead in the Visayas continues to be her trump card. Make no mistake about it, you can’t discount the assumption that the opposition tried to cheat, too; in which case, the question might be, did the President lose? So far it seems she may not have won by as much as she claimed, but the probability she won still remains high. No one, so far, has been able to demolish this belief.

The Masses: They don’t trust anyone, but if they have to support someone, it will be the someone who shows they know how to handle power. In the first place, it’s well to remember that the masses were, like all other classes, divided as to which candidate to support; that they have an instinctive ability to analyze issues and make distinctions: hence the massive outpouring of sympathy for FPJ when he died, but their lack of enthusiasm for carrying his fight beyond the grave. When I went to Edsa Tres, the people there told me they were there not because they wanted Estrada back in power, but because they felt he had been treated shabbily. You do not kick someone when he is down, it was precisely this bullying attitude that brought Estrada down in the first place. A steady and arrogant policy of simply picking on the opposition might get their goat, but will the Left harping on the need to repeal the law of supply and demand, or the Left’s cynical alliance with the Estrada people they helped bring down do it?

Businessmen: The good thing is that their cowardice is helping to erode whatever influence they have.

The AFP and PNP: They have no charismatic leader. They have no alternative to present. Their instinct, though, is to oppose the Left and if the Left is against the government (allied with the Estrada people the military continue to have contempt for -Erap’s penchant for night-time parades because he’d sleep late hasn’t been forgotten by soldiers who lost sleep due to his habits), then they might as well stick with a President eager to pander to them.

Conclusion? The biggest strength of the administration are those arrayed against it.

Links: Willie Baun has a clever column here

Manuel L. Quezon III.

7 thoughts on “Manifestations of Sin

  1. i like the new format too… and you have left no room for a Thomistic argument as to whether the angel in the header is male or female

  2. Butch: I am currently quizzing my artist-friend who made the illustration, whether the angel is really supposed to have such a prominent peanut.

  3. Give Erap some credit for not unleashing the police and military to violently disperse the rallyists of EDSA II, as he had every right to do.

    Perhaps he had an eye out for history, and decided that it was better to be remembered as a buffoon who squandered plenty of opportunities to become one of this country’s better presidents than as a butcher who stubbornly clung to power.

  4. Paul, don’t you forget. Erap has been officially included among the world’s evil despots. It’s quite unfair, yes, but remember all those who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of the first Juetengate and volcanic Eraption.

  5. Paul: I was there at Mendiola when the police panicked and broke ranks. JEE would have been down to the PSG, because everyone else abandoned him. He might have been lynched. That’s why after Edsa Tres, the military had revised their tactics. This Saturday should result in another demonstration of how the military have decided that half the fight is lost of crowds even reach Mendiola.

  6. I stand corrected there.

    It would be interesting to see how the Presidential Guards would react if push really came to shove.

  7. From what I gathered at the time, and later, when I had the chance, to actually talk to members of the PSG, their loyalty is to the office, and not the particular person occupying it; that’s for most of them, anyway, of course the commanders are all changed depending on loyalty to the incumbent. Which means, if push comes to shove, they will fight to protect the President, but whether their officers will order them to fight, is another matter.

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