The case of the disappearing soldiers

Last night, the news broke late enough so most of the papers weren’t able to make it their headline news: but and the Inquirer positively bellowed,

A MONTH AFTER FAELDON FLED 4 more Oakwood mutineers escape President orders massive manhunt

Related news:

Checkpoints set up as hunt for mutineers intensifies; Army links lawyer to mutineers’ escape; Arroyo cancels Bicol visit (ABS-CBN)

Trillanes: Pinoys must take a stand on GMA presidency (Tribune)

Trillanes: Time to take sides (Malaya)

RG Cruz has a detailed account of the news breaking, and the initial ham-fisted handling of the escape by the government, in his blog. Very helpful, by the way, are the extensive quotes in his entry.

So once again, the specter of armed intervention haunts us, at a time when the military have retreated into themselves, and the civilian public knows little about the way the officers and enlisted men think. My own gut instinct is that the young officers who do the thinking are closer in their attitudes and prescriptions to their nemesis, the New People’s Army, not a comforting thought.

I am reminded of the memoirs of an American Communist, Sol Auerbach, including a discussion he had with Manuel L. Quezon. A passage in particular, has remained fixed in my mind ever since I read it. Auerbach recounted what Quezon told him, regarding agrarian and other reforms:

He was going to solve the problem, he assured me, by such agencies as the National Rice and Corn Corporation that would help store and market the crops of the small growers, and by measures against usury. For the rest, he was engaged in solving the problem in his own way – by putting the fear of the masses into the hearts of the wealthy land barons. “I tell them, if you know what’s good for you better improve the conditions of your tenants. You do not have enough sons for the army, so we must conscript our soldiers from the poor. We put guns in their hands and teach them how to use them. If you are not careful they will use those guns against you. If you want to save what you have, give them ten per cent of it or they will take it all.”

Fast forward from 1937 to 2006, and we had former President Fidel V. Ramos in his rambling press conference seriously suggesting that if reforms weren’t swiftly put in place, and in a manner that demonstrated the capacity of the political class to set aside its own interests, the day wouldn’t be far off when the outraged masses would simply take to looting and pillaging the enclaves of the middle and upper classes. And here lies the genuine danger in what’s taking place, with the Lakas-CMD steamroller heaving into action: it is leaving less and less room for any hope for the system to correct and save itself.

Constitutional change related news is conflicting, to say the least:

House adopting ConCom proposals  (Inquirer)

House junks Con-Com proposals (Manila Times)

Lakas draft charter changes adopted by House committee and Villar: Reenacted budget will bankroll Cha-cha (Malaya)

House rams Cha-cha, No-El still on (Tribune)

In the punditocracy, The Inquirer editorial says the President prefers an Opposition a la carte.

Jarius Bondoc and Emil Jurado hit the Senate.

Ninez Cacho-Olivarez says the old Macapagal-Lopez feud is back with a vengeance.

Patricio Diaz embarks on a thought-provoking series of columns, first with Where Lie the Faults?(2). He begins with referring to the findings he expressed in his August 19, 2005 column (apparently he hasn’t been well):

In the first article, “What’s Wrong in the System,” we explained that (1) nothing, in principle, is wrong with a form of government having three co-equal branches designed to balance and check each other.

And (2) nothing is essentially wrong with a political system under one central control so long as the central government is just, honestly equitable and sincere to the local governments.

Hence, in principle, there is nothing essentially wrong with the presidential-unitary system. The faults must be lying somewhere.

That elicited the question, “Where?”

Today, Patricio Diaz continues with with Where Lie the Faults? (3).

Alvin Capino observes that jueteng is back.

Johnna Villaviray-Giolagon visits the Leper colony in Culion.

The blogosphere has Yugatech kindly giving me the credit for coining the term, “Pinoy Big Blogger.” Thanks. What to do with the domain though, is Yuga’s problem.

Red’s Herring has a delightful summary of political opinions presented via the Socratic method.

The Unlawyer has an extremely useful roundup of business-related news. PCIJ notes the growing number of Filipinos from various social classes reducing the size of their purchases, literally.

Ang Tambayan ni Paeng decides to endorse putschist Nick Faeldon’s half-mast flag project (incidentally, Yuga asks a very good question: if the government doesn’t like a site or a blog, can it force the company hosting the site to give up information on the blog or site owner?). Paeng is also involved in an effort to clean up the Philippines.

New Economist asks, is intelligence useful for politicians? My view: empathy, communication skills and charisma are more useful; intelligence can be provided by Think Tanks. The politician who can’t get elected is a politician unable to effect change.

Thoughts, Ideas, Etc. from Hong Kong thinks its a good thing Philippine sports is being forced to be less basketball-obsessed. I agree.

Poynteronline points to an analysis of online and print newspapers in Europe. Interesting reading for newspaper people.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

7 thoughts on “The case of the disappearing soldiers

  1. It will be interesting to see whether the escapees will join Faldeon’s website or put up their own.

  2. As much as I like to have a president who’s got a clean slate, I would rather not resort to armed conflict (as the NPA’s do), nor use the military establishment(coup d’etat) to again change our current leadership.

    Having said that, the hope of having a “clean” president (and will continue to be clean) looks lost without the military weighing in. If that happens, aren’t we going into an unwanted route once more?

    Developments I’ll be watching out will be:
    (1) What spin the military will put in this development to coverup their clumsiness.
    (2) What Executive Order GMA will issue, to prevent other detainees from escaping. (a joke!)
    (3) What new issue the palace will bring out to overshadow this significant news item.

  3. mlq3, the Sol Auerbach excerpt was an a very good read. MLQ’s admiration of Stalin mirrors the current admiration of many towards Lee Kuan Yew. After all, Stalin’s Soviet Union was in many ways the Singapore of its time.

    As for your analysis of the ‘genuine danger in what’s taking place, with the Lakas-CMD steamroller…’ – to borrow MLQ’s words, “Now you have hit the nail on the head…”

  4. It has always been the argument by Arroyo’s supporters to reserve judgment and avoid hasty conclusion on the basic premise that the facts are absent.

    People can discern factual events. People are not that ignorant.

    Fact#1: On June 27, 2005 Monday evening, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo admitted in the national television that it was her voice on the recording talking to an election official to protect her votes. (An election official is tasked to be impartial to all candidates). The President apologized for her lapse of judgment (guilt), promised TO TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY (big question mark, when and how) at the same time telling the nation to move on (as if to forget it happens).

    Fact#2: The Justice Department and NTC with instruction from the President, threatened to close media and prosecute persons engage in the distribution of the illegal material. Most important, there was no prosecution or court martial of the military personnel involved in the wiretapping of the commander in-chief which is a serious offense of treason and punishable by death. (Prosecution or court martial will open up the can of worms in the use of military by the President during the election).

    Fact#3: On September 3, 2005, President Arroyo gave out in the dead of the night P45 billion in pork barrel funds to her allies in Congress. In return on September 6, 2005, the House of Representative dominated by the President’s party, killed the impeachment complaint 158-51.

    Fact#4: On September 30, 2005, President Arroyo invoked her executive privilege on EO464 directing all senior government officials to secure her approval on sensitive public information. (She prevented National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales to disclose information on Venable contract at the same time provided basis for the court martial of Brig Gen Francisco Gudani and Lt Col Alexander Balutan who were giving information on Palace sanctioned electoral fraud in Mindanao).

    All the factual events from Fact#1 through Fact#4 was meant to suppress public information regarding the president and her use of office specifically on electoral fraud.

    The 1987 constitution provided the right remedy to ACCOUNTABILITY OF PUBLIC OFFICER, specifically the PRESIDENT by going through the impeachment complaint and have the Senate sit as court TO CONVICT OR EXONERATE the President. That is fair justice to all. PRESIDENT ARROYO PROMISED TO TAKE FULL ACCOUNTABILITY AND YET KILLED THE ONLY ACCOUNTABILITY PROVIDED FOR IN THE CONSTITUTION.

  5. The Sol Auerbach memoirs are very interesting. There is certainly strong attraction for a strong leader, not just with the Right, but with Communists as well. As for the sons of the peasants holding the guns, that could well be true. However, it is usually someone from the middle or upper classes who will be the brains. But Quezon’s warning, taken in the context of the times (a 10% share of the harvest for the tenants would be ridiculously small these days), still resonates.

    There is indeed overconcentration of wealth and power, but it is geographical as well. 60% of banking, commercial and industrial wealth is concentrated in only one place: Metro Manila. Decentralization of wealth (allocation of projects and infrastructure) and power (decision-making) should be a priority of any government. And there should be more focus on creating new wealth and dispersing it, instead of just taking from the rich to give to the poor. Democratizing poverty only puts everyone in an equally miserable footing, as is the case in North Korea and was the case in the former Communist states.

  6. Unfortunately, for them, they won’t be getting a considerable number of support from the public. What they did the first time at the Oakwood mutiny is already a shameful display of impulsiveness. They scared those who are merely staying at the hotel and strolling near the malls. They’ve illegally used their uniforms. It’s a clear display of disobedience.

    Hopefully, these five will be arrested and be subject for proper punishment. They can’t be considered as good examples of what soldiers are sworn to do. If they are planning for organizing a coup or something, I don’t think they will triumph for most of the soldiers are ever so loyal to their commander in chief. And these loyal soldiers will make sure these fugitives won’t succeed.

    A noble soldier can be likened to the late Capt. Amatong. “Capt. Aniano Amatong Jr. made the supreme sacrifice of staying behind to maneuver his plunging aircraft away from houses and into an open fishpond in Paombong, Bulacan yesterday morning, even as he ordered his co-pilot to eject to safety.” (Source:

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