A state of panic

A proclamation of a state of national emergency is nothing less, and nothing more, than the a proclamation of a state of mind, Rep. Teodoro Locsin, Jr. told me as we marched down Ayala Avenue towards a Ninoy Aquino monument guarded from the people by phalanxes of policemen on the 20th anniversary of People Power. I asked him what he meant. He replied that a presidential proclamation is a public expression of a president’s thinking, with a catalog of facts the president claims justifies that state of mind. “For this reason,” he explained, “it is beyond judicial review and dispute.” Why so, I asked. “Because we have the precedent of the Supreme Court when Marcos suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus and later imposed martial law,” he said. “The Supreme Court said it is not a determiner of facts. Neither can it rule on a president’s state of mind.” For this reason, when the Supreme Court upheld President Marcos’s suspension of the Writ in 1971, Locsin’s father furiously condemned it: eight months later, he became one of the top ten prisoners of the dictatorship. Unlike me, Locsin is not an oppositionist; but he likes to think clearly. And he clearly sees that relying on judicial relief is a stab in the dark.

My view: the President’s proclamation of a State of National Emergency is, in reality, the concrete manifestation, in legal language, of a state of panic.

Opposition and even adventurism (on the part of the military) may be an inherent temptation, but digging in one’s heels isn’t an inevitable response to an incumbent: at least not on a wide scale. Yet it has become exactly that: unbending, inflexible, determined, and widespread. The President has only herself to thank for this state of affairs. It is increasingly impossible for decent people to keep tolerating her. A fellow columnist I encountered at the Ayala Avenue rally told us frankly that she originally had no intention of commemorating Edsa 1. But seeing the manner in which the government handled the anniversary, in particular seeing the brutalization of the public ordered the Palace, pushed her to join the march. There were many others there who felt the same way.

The face of the administration was reflected in the many faces people saw, yesterday:

1. Members of a divided armed forces confronting a possible coup, not by crushing it, but merely by rather gently detaining one alleged ringleader, while establishing a kind of modus vivendi with the rest. No one marched, publicly, against the administration, but no soldiers actively rose up to defend it, either. From the Chief of Staff on down to the major service commanders, we kept hearing that they were concerned with preserving “the chain of command” -while explicitly -and studiously- emphasizing the chain of command begins with the Chief of Staff, and not the President. This is, in a effect, a ringing rejection of their Commander-in-Chief. The armed forces has demonstrated itself ambivalent, at best, about their commander-in-chief. The President in turn demonstrated her increasing reliance on the police, just as Ferdinand Marcos increasingly relied on the Philippine Constabulary as a foil to the Philippine Army.

2. Determined groups hell bent on exercising what Filipinos view as part of their martial law heritage: public action through public protest; and a government reduced to what the dictatorship did, insisting public protest isn’t even a right, but a privilege. A new level of spontaneity was reached yesterday, when committed groups opposed in principle to Mrs. Arroyo found their ranks swelled by people joining their ranks -until they were dispersed by the police.

3. People appalled and disgusted by the Edsa anniversary being marked by official mistrust, even indifference, and a palpable fear. People shocked and resentful of a government that commemorated Edsa, not according to the traditions of Edsa, but more along the repressive lines of the regime Edsa brought to its knees.

4. The faces of Edsa were nuns and bishops forcibly prevented from reaching the People Power Monument; citizens bludgeoned and water cannoned at the Edsa Shrine; citizens clubbed and hurt in Santolan, Quezon City; in Makati City; Prof. Randy David arrested while in the midst of a hallmark of People Power protests -negotiating with the police. Then, David was bundled off to a military camp, deprived of his means of communications and thus, held incommunicado, prevented from seeing his lawyer or visitors for some time, and only released, late that night, after a massive hue and cry had ensued: otherwise, arrested on a friday, he could have been held without bail the whole weekend. The faces of Edsa were not just the red flags of various groups, it was the faces of leading members of the business community: Ramon del Rosario, Jose Cuisia, Bobby de Ocampo, Roberto Romulo, and many others, linking arms and defying a government ban on protests; it was the face of Cory Aquino determined to defy the ban on protests to simply lay a wreath at her husband’s monument, in the same manner she and millions defied the government to bury her husband.

5. The face of the anniversary was a public in confusion and mired in suspicion: periodically there were frantic text messages sent out. Were media outfits in danger of being shut down? At certain moments it even seemed, to some, that text messaging itself was either being impeded or simply shut down by the government; there were even protests from the provinces, where hostility to the President may be more contained: “why were we included in the state of emergency?”

6. The faces of journalists nation wide who are faced with the prospect that unless you are Max Soliven with wealth and influence, you are a target by the nature of the profession you’re engaged in: that you can be detained, arrested, imprisoned (as so many, all along, have been hunted down and shot), simply on the basis of what government decrees is its definition of “fair” and “factual” reportage or commentary. And that, even if you aren’t arrested outright, the vast resources of the state are going to be devoted to making sure intimidation discourages dissent or even decent reporting. It was about the Malacañang Press Corps evicted from the Palace, and the National Telecommunications Commission handing down an order last issued in 1989 when military rebels were rampaging in the streets: and yet ignoring, while radio, TV and cable operators turned pale, that the only ones rampaging in the streets were the police. Upon instructions of the government.

Yesterday, to me, was about waking up to early morning rumors of military action; of the action not taking place, but receding to demonstrate an armed forces disenchanted with a commander in chief that alternately coddles its ranks while insulting its sense of professionalism, while the public geared up to protest. It was about the thrill of hearing that Randy David was on the march, with 3,000 students, to stand up for a better life; it was about hearing -and watching- those marching being beaten up in Santolan, at the Edsa Shrine, and the People Power Monument. It was about the government, on the anniversary of Edsa, issuing a blanket prohibition of public protest!

Yesterday, to me, was about hearing the government follow up its blanket prohibition with a state of national emergency; and following that up by announcing that it was unilaterally withdrawing official recognition of the scheduled commemorations of Edsa 1. It had facilitated the plan to have Mrs. Aquino lay a wreath; now the wreath-laying would be forbidden. It was about deciding, as many others did, that what was originally planned as a sentimental recollection had taken on the characteristics of a necessary act of defiance. The government said that Edsa could not be commemorated, and that if a citizen insisted, the citizen could face arrest? Then go ahead, do you damnedest! It was about going to Ayala Avenue to see faces old and new, including quite a few who hadn’t marched in decades -yet were insisting that the time had come to march again. It was about the kind of electricity one only experiences in a rally; the rediscovered shared principles, the surprising company one finds one’s self keeping, the discovery there may be more that unites than divides. It was about seeing my mother, a prudent person, politically, out with volunteers a quarter of her age, because the Red Cross (whose volunteers she trains) had deployed its volunteers because of the danger of so many people possibly getting hurt.

Yesterday was about linking arms with poor people, rich people, normally politically indifferent people and activists, people with views different from my own but who, at least, aren’t cowardly collaborators or simple-minded apologists of the current dispensation. It was about moving forward along Ayala Avenue at time inch by inch, foot by foot: seeing, every few meters, the policemen menacingly blocking our way. At one point, I was an arm’s legth away from batons being aimed at us from behind riot shields; and then cheering as the shields retreated, only to regroup. It was about feeling a particular kind of fury, at seeing ordinary policemen being given the extraordinary mission of defending Ninoy’s statue from the homage of his widow.

The policemen, after repeated negotiations, gave way -but their orders from the start were clear. After Cory Aquino went home, and darkness descending on the throng, the policemen came back -and chased the protesters away.

Yesterday was about replying to a friend who is pro-administration, and with whom I normally maintain civil relations despite our political difference, who texted me that he admired the President for “firm response to all this tiresome noise,” with a slogan adapted from the days of the dictatorship. I replied to him: “Marcos, Hitler, Arroyo, Diktador! Tuta!” And I meant it.

Yesterday was about not writing in this blog, but going out, instead, to see and feel the effects of an Official State of Panic. It was about coming home, dead tired, in order to rest for a Mass at the Edsa Shrine later this morning. I have been strong in my condemnations of what’s going on, whether on Channel News Asia or in a podcast interview by the San Francisco Chronicle; I have no choice. As the untranslatable phrase goes,

“Bastusan na.”

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

42 thoughts on “A state of panic

  1. MLQ3,

    The best of luck! With Gloria’s General Order no. 5 (her prerogative to clamp down on media for anything you say that she feels contains ‘rebel propaganda’), you are running the risk of being accused of inciting to sedition or rebellion or both.

    Her state of emergency has pushed the country into an intensive care unit and caused it to be in coma. All these these years under her putrid governance caused all these divisiveness.

    To get out of the coma she’s put the country in, the country needs a surgeon, a surgical fix. Gloria is not even a trained nurse! She and her government are all a waste of good people’s rations.

    Her proclamation of open intimidation will not break the good, the moral and the courageous.

    Fair winds MLQ3!

  2. Salamat, sir, for your your courageous stand, and march. GMA has not obeyed the wise advice that goes “in case of panic, don’t tremor.” I personally believe the end is near.

  3. mlq3,

    maraming salamat sa sinulat mo. natutuwa ako at may mga tao pang kagaya mo.

    i only wish i could go to the philippines right now and join the marchers/protesters to voice out and condemn the shenanigans of the fake president.

    sa totoo lang, very true ang sinabi mo, re the account of what transpired yesterday. bastusan na talaga. eh what else can we expect from gloria? sa kakapalan niya, talagang bastusan at garapalan na ang ginagawa ng mga tao sa administrasyon.

    parang awa mo na, pakipukpok nga ang ulo ng mga tao na hanggang ngayon, di pa rin nagigising at kumakampi pa sa lintek na gloriang yan.

    i will keep on praying and hoping that more people like you will stand firm and be counted.

    maraming salamat. take care and best regards.

  4. the self-preserving general order no. 5 is like soup no. 5…

    aphrodisiac to sustain her power lust.

  5. holyfather, everyone, thanks for your concern. in truth one reason i didn’t post yesterday, besides following events, was i had to consult some people on the question of legal options, safe houses, etc. these were discussions i last remember with my family way back during martial law.

  6. It is of supreme irony that exactly on the day when the Marcos dictatorship was toppled 20 years ago, GMA had revived the very reason why that dictatorship was toppled by declaring Proclamation 1017. GMA has now pushed the country back where it was 35 years ago – under Martial Law.

    Let us brace ourselves, a crackdown on bloggers critical to the new dictatorship might just happen soon.

    Ingat Manolo, ingat tayong lahat!

  7. I can’t help but shed a tear or two, upon waking up to the news of a new Martial Law in the guise of 1017.

    70’s flashes back no matter i tried to divert my thoughts by playing jazz on my headphones.

    Back then i was about to join the NPA for having seen the atrocities of the Philippine Constabulary in my hometown – St. Bernard.

    Somehow i was able to convinced myself to “stick with the plan” – fight WITHIN the system.

    20 years later, here i am again – asking the same question. Should i join an armed struggle?

    This question is legitimate. Afterall, the PNP today is the same as the abusive PC yesterday.

    They are the same people that whisked away Prof. Randy David. Angels of Darkness in plainclothes.

  8. i have been trying to write my comments but have not been able to get thru. There are monsters in Malacanang. I am afraid.

  9. My friend email me something that he wrote about Gloria. You may read it in my blog. (It’s 2nd to top entry.)

    I revere you for going to Ayala yesterday. It really goes out to my heart that some people do care for the government. With your writing, with our writings, we can inform the people of what is really happening.

    I find the state of emergency really absurd. It’s unnecessary in most aspects.

    Iba na talaga. Bastusan na nga.

    “Gloria pasista pahirap sa masa!”

  10. everything that needs to be said has already been said. there is little chance that anyone on either side of the aisle will change his or her mind anymore. it has become more than the conservative vs the liberal, the economy vs democracy, the pragmatist vs the idealist, passion vs reason. consensus is no longer achievable, if in fact it ever was.

    somehow, i don’t think that those who oppose her can ever be convinced to think otherwise by their very natures. maybe it does make you better people, who knows? moral high ground has always been the preserve of the idealist. if you ever win, then for your sake as well as for the rest of us, i hope it is enough.

    thank you, mlq, for having kept the discourse civil all throughout. i cannot wish you luck in your endeavours, but i do wish you safety and goodwill.

  11. a proclamation of a state of national emergency was issued despite the coup d’etat plot/attempt declared under control. 1017, as it was numbered, was justified according to the writers because of a “continuing” rebellion.

    if that is so, how is the nation’s civil liberties be safeguarded from a possible “CONTINUING” abuse of authority of the ones wielding power? please remember the tabayoyong incident. we were not on any emergency at the time and yet his rights were violated. how are our rights now? i guess, one must just say “amen” to all in order to avert any repression and remove the fear of incarceration…that simple.

    this SONE is hidden under somebody’s skirt and not open to congressional affirmation or revocation. this is arbitrarily decided (much like the controversial eo464 and cpr) and not subject to scrutiny by Congress and possibly even the Court (as it is just a statement of fact and is granted by the Constitution to any chief executive and commander-in-chief in calling out the AFP to PREVENT lawless violence).

    we also don’t know when this will end. suspension of the writ of habeas corpus or declaration of martial law could have been better considering there’s a deadline of 60 days (granting such order had a Congress nod and unless, of course, Congress didn’t extend its persistence). so much for uncertainties…

    how i wish pure blacks and whites are pushed to our face…no gray ones…no double standards…no vague proclamations and executive orders…and certainly, no overkill…please.

  12. I thought this will never happen again. But it is for us to decide if darkness will envelop our country again. Let us all remember 20 years ago that we all thundered “NEVER AGAIN!!!”

  13. Kung bastusan na nga, is it time to lay down the pen, turn off the computer, go out and buy a gun and go underground?

  14. I hope that the people in the GMA Government that still have GOOD MORALS & DECENCY should ‘BREAK-AWAY’ from her the SOONEST. The EVILS OF THE ARROYOS is CONTAGIOUS!!!

  15. Arroyo’s declaration of a “State of National Emergency” is not only stupid and ill-advised, it is a complete desecration and insult to the thousands of Filipinos who fought against Martial Law. And she did it on the anniversary of the “People Power Revolution,” no less.


    Another wrong move from her could easily spark more people into ousting her. Hindi yata siya nag-iisip ng mabuti.

  16. In Germany, they came first for the communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists but I didn’t speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time nobody was left to speak up.

    — Martin Niemöller

  17. When children are misbehaving and cannot be controlled, then YANTOK is necessary for the love of them.The President is exactly doing that and its the right thing!

  18. GMA got suckered into declaring a state of Emergency.
    It’s a well thought out sacrifice by General Lim if
    you ask me… a grandmaster’s move.

    A veteran of several unsuccessful coups in the past,
    Lim knew that it will be hard to penetrate la Gloria’s
    Generals – especially since most of them helped her
    cheat in the last elections. Can you imagine General
    Lim going to AFP chief Senga to convince him to
    withdraw support for GMA. Why do that and not have a
    plan b and c just in case Senga cannot be convinced?
    Is he that idiotic? i don’t think so.

    Lim must have convinced Senga that they were indeed
    moving in for the kill . So convinced was Senga that
    he ordered him arrested and he probably even suggested
    to the palace that appropriate actions must be
    taken…like putting the country in a “state of
    emergency again” . It worked in killing edsa tres so
    why not do it again.

    Now… the palace is in a difficult position again of
    proving that there is indeed a clear and present
    danger that warranted the declaration of the “state of
    emergency” , warantless arrests, closing of
    newspapers, brutal dispersal of peacefull rallies, and
    the cancellation of EDSA rites. Because of what they
    did, people have realized the stark similaraties
    between the declaration of Martial Rule and to what
    had just happened. GMA has definitely gone overboard
    this time.

    General Lim must have concocted such a believable
    conspiracy theory that he was able to sucker Senga
    and the administration into the knee-jerk reaction of
    declaring the state of emergency. Had he been able to
    convince Senga that the impending coup will surely
    succeed and that it was to his best interest to join
    the coup, then it would have also been a welcome
    development. Any which way….the adminsitration
    loses. If Senga joined the coup, then it would have
    been over right away. Since he did not, then the
    outcome will be slower but nevertheless still the
    same. A daring move by Lim.

    Because of the Palace’s monumental blunder in falling
    for General Lim’s gambit, I think it won’t be long
    before this administration is over. (well hopefully!)

    Buti nga.

  19. je salue votre hardiesse et votre intrepidité à propos de votre point de vue à la situation politique de notre pays. poursuivez!!!

  20. GMA is paranoid! That’s what you get when you cheated your way to power. PP 1017 simply shows that GMA and her administration is in a state of panic and desperation. We are now currently trudging the same path of suppression of freedom. How ironic; just when the Filipino people are celebrating the 1986 EDSA revolution 20 years ago.
    This is a time to take a stand! EVIL triumphs when good men do nothing…

  21. To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the public.

    — Theodore Roosevel

  22. Nakakahiya, nakakainis, at high blood na highblood ako. Nakakatulog pa kaya ang pandak na ito sa kanyang pinaggagawa? Nauutot ako sa subrang kabag na dulot ng aking pagkadismaya sa “Stitch” of Emergency ni Gloria. Pinagtagpi-tagping tsismis, kok-korok-kok-kok na? Mahiya-hiya naman kayo. If I have my way, u-utotan ko kayong lahat diyan sa malakanyang. Pwe…

  23. Jeg hilser til klovnen. Jeg liker klovner veldig godt! Jeg har vört põ sirkus og sett klovner.

  24. dear sir

    magandang madaling araw po!

    ngayon lamang po ako nakapagbasa ng article mo, pero maraming salamat sapagkat kailangan na kailangan ko po ito sa research ko…. gusto ko rin pong malaman mo na malamang na basahin ko sa hinaharap ang iyong mga sinulat….

    salamat po ng marami at mabuhay po kayo!

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