17 July 2009

Putsch against GMA

Here's the story behind the putsch against the GMA administration.

The story within the story


By Carmen N. Pedrosa
Philippine Star
Sunday, September 7, 2008

If there is a book Filipino journalists must read, it is Stephen Kinzer’s Overthrow. It is a good tool to understand our politics of today, suffused as it is, with geopolitical implications. The key
point is to keep firmly in mind the US-Chinese world power rivalry. Because of this rivalry, the US has no patience with foreign policies that are not in keeping with their idea of American hegemony in the region.

In his book Kinzer narrates that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not an isolated episode. He traces a history of 110 years during which Americans overthrew 14 governments that displeased them for various ideological, political and economic reasons. Among the first of these countries that shaped US policy on overthrow is the Philippines. Others are Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Honduras, South Vietnam, Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Grenada, and Panama.

Often, he says, US officials simply don’t comprehend why developing nations want to control their own natural resources. “With each overthrow, the US government repeatedly pursued short-term gains, never contemplating the tragic consequences that might develop decades later.”

* * *

I suspect the same US policy is behind the vilification of President GMA. To them she is an unreliable ally. That decision was made as far back as the 2004 elections. The overt story of this campaign of vilification is “she cheated in the elections and a tape was produced to support the allegation.” All criticisms, in one form or another, spring from that accusation which gave it a moral stamp.

The campaign came in stages which included props like a UN rapporteur, church groups from abroad and shrill statements from human rights organizations. Never mind if that tape is itself illegal and unacceptable evidence. Never mind if the Supreme Court handed a decision that any protest and re-counting of votes are moot if the protestant, FPJ, is dead. Never mind if Filipinos refused to mass in protest even when Cory and the bishops were calling as they did in two EDSAs.

That is not the point. The point is to make Filipinos hate its own government and make it ineffective.

* * *

Its covert reason is another. Because she has a penchant for acting and deciding independently (i.e. her flirtations with China is one, another is her recall of the Philippine team from Iraq for the sake of truck driver Angelo de la Cruz) therefore she cannot be “fully” trusted. To isolate her government from Filipinos — the record just keeps playing on — she cannot do right. There are enough home-grown resources to drive the wedge — media, poll surveys, sections of the Church and business groups are only some of them. (Remember that pathetic protest in Ayala Avenue or the Peninsula siege or even finally the aggrieved media members holding up their tied hands).

Less obvious is the strategy to ensure that no Charter change ever takes place before 2010 until a new, more pliant president can be installed. If we follow the logic of American interventions, the next president will owe his victory to them for stopping Charter change at whatever cost.

I can imagine the exasperation of political operators assigned to this task. She has not resigned nor has she been ousted. She is successfully being estranged from her people without their even knowing why.

* * *

Robert Sherrill who reviewed the book says American agents engage in “complex, well-financed campaigns to bring down governments.” But it is not often obvious. The American belief that “they are the most righteous people in the world and that they are obliged to force their version of righteousness on backward nations — especially if they have a bountiful supply of minerals that our corporations want (i.e., oil in Iran, copper in Chile)” can be distracting. Not surprisingly there has to be a religious or moral component in regime changes especially in a mainly Catholic country like the Philippines.

* * *

Take the case of the Iranian leader, Mossadegh. In Overthrow, Kinzer narrates the British asked Secretary of State Dulles who in turn asked his brother, CIA Director Allen Dulles to conduct a
vilification campaign against him. “What ensued was a truly masterful piece of skulduggery” Kinzer writes.

“First came a propaganda campaign to convince the West Mossadegh was a communist, which in the US of the 1950s put him on the level of a child molester. Actually, Mossadegh hated communists, but most of our press swallowed the lie. Time Magazine had previously called Mossadegh “the Iranian George Washington” and “the most world-renowned man his ancient race had produced for centuries.” Now it called him “one of the worst calamities to the anti-communist world since the Red conquest of China.”

* * *

I daresay that GMA’s vilification is no different from Mossadegh’s. Take the MOA-AD controversy. Attacks on the MOA-AD have been so skillfully orchestrated to stop not only Charter change, these reinforce the tarring of GMA’s government as incompetent and promote opposition candidates for the presidency in the 2010 elections.

The National Union of People’s Lawyers are being “skilfully” used to whip up disgust with the controversial memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) a President GMA’s bid to extend her term beyond 2010. The lawyers’ group blames Arroyo for the deaths and displacement of civilians in Mindanao.

And the final blow: NUPL calls on senators who have endorsed moves to amend the Constitution to make way for a shift to a federal government to withdraw their support.

* * *

Malacañang is fighting back but it has to be more forceful and as skillful. “In the wake of the controversy, Ms Arroyo has unveiled a “new paradigm of peace” shifting the focus of the peace process from talks with armed groups to “authentic dialogues with concerned communities.” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said in a press statement.

If I remember right, the Aquino government worked out its peace agreement with the MNLF through an executive order without much ado.

But that does not stop Senate President Protempore “Jinggoy” Estrada and Senator Mar Roxas for stoking the fire against an agreement that never was. (Roxas has the edge for American support in 2010.) No matter how many times it is said no agreement has been signed. You had better believe in it like Mossadegh was a communist.

Biggest political lie

From: Balai Malai
To: Demosthenes B. Donato
Sent: Monday, March 03, 2008 4:36 AM
Subject: (Biggest Political Lie)

Hi Batchmates,

Before anything else, I would like to say that I seek you in peace and respect as fellow Ateneo Law School batchmates. I have closely monitored with increasingly anxiety the NBN/Lozada stories. To be honest, I am disturbed by the political advocacy calling for "regime change"... The content and message of the e-mail petition calling for resignation speaks for itself. From my end, I will just cite the article of Carmen N. Pedrosa below whose view I share in relation to what's going on (since the time GMA pulled out Angelo dela Cruz from Iraq, and actively sought out Chinese investments, up to the present)...

I admit I am frustrated that many of us continue to revere (the) former President (Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino) as the leading light (and infallible icon) of democracy. If there is anything she did right, it was that she handed power to her Constitutional successor in 1992. The rumors I now hear about the First Gentleman are the same rumors I heard before about Mrs. Aquino and her relatives (then called Kamag-anak, Inc.). The only difference is that I purposely chose to disbelieve the rumors about then President Aquino out of my euphoria from People's Power. Now I know I was mistaken. If we should mature politically as a people, we should learn to do away with stereotyping, i.e. that Marcos and his supporters were (all) evil, and that Aquino and her civil society associates are (all) saints. That is the BIGGEST POLITICAL LIE we all need to overcome. Let the laws be applied (fairly and equally) to (everyone) regardless of our political leanings. Otherwise, we will keep on repeating the same political mistakes we have done before.

Dindo Donato
Ateneo Law Batch 88

Fascism in the streets
By Carmen N. Pedrosa
Sunday, March 2, 2008

One headline said it all “The crowd is the statement.” What about the millions of other Filipinos who were not there and who do not agree with the statement? I hope they will not be forced to submit to action sought by “the crowd” that would affect the entire country and consequently their own lives. Must they be deprived just because a group of vested interests were able to gather a crowd? Ok let’s be generous and say there were 75,000 who gathered there according to the organizers themselves. The police said 15,000 and they give a scientific reason for their estimate. Director Geary Barias, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office reasoned that if the corner of Ayala and Paseo de Roxas measured half a hectare, or 5,000 square meters and you had three people per square meter then the logical estimate would be 15,000 people. Even with that estimate it would have been too crowded for the space of a square meter and it did not look that crowded even with deliberate panning only in parts were it was ‘crowded’.

When a few segments of society are able to assert their will by force, with whatever weapon, there is one word for it — fascism. They were describing the whole event as festive, not violent at all even if the intention was to force President GMA’s ouster by “the crowd”. Speaking of truth, the singing and laughing churchgoers and prayerful society matrons is also an extra constitutional means to get rid of the president. It also means to those of us unable to put up crowds for lack of time and money or corporate sponsors that it bypasses the political institutions for decision making — elections. And that is not until 2010. Something I had always thought these groups hold precious.

Although fascist is the last word they would want to be called, that is what the group was about in Ayala last Friday. They wanted to force President GMA out because they had “enough” people in the streets. I also know how these are gathered. Why is it happening? Why can a few members of the clergy, some oligarchs and the opposition gather a crowd and then claim they speak for the nation? Because that is the truth they would not admit or tell us. They may be a motley group but they symbolize real power in this country — the church, the oligarchy and colonial operators — not the military or the government as these are so often accused who can be made to cave in when the time comes.

Fascismo, its Italian name comes from fascio means, “bundle, (political) group,” and its emblem, “the fasces, a bundle of rods bound around a projecting axe-head that was carried before an ancient Roman magistrate by an attendant as a symbol of authority and power.” It might have been founded by Mussolini as an authoritarian political movement but it is also widely used as a political term to mean the use of force. Last Friday, the fascist weapon was “the crowd”, but in truth just a few rods that compose the power in this country.

It is easy to be misled when they gather a crowd and brand it as people power, and mouth freedom and democracy. But look closer and connect the dots — something else appears — the crowds are mere props of the oligarchic bundle of rods. The massing of crowds for regime change has come to be known in the Philippines as EDSA. It was successful twice that a third is being attempted again.

Mainly it is a fight of elites with one group out in the cold who want to seize power — sila naman. If that were the only reason, we would not have this fever pitch push to make it happen before 2010. That is the giveaway that I have often written about in the past. It is the flexing of muscle of political operators who want to prove they can do it at anytime by pushing the right buttons.

One day perhaps an assiduous history student will write it all down. It is not just about NBN or ZTE but about the struggle for power between the US and China.

* * *

I found it the height of irony that former presidents Corazon Aquino and Joseph Estrada should be both at the rally. Cory Aquino was put up after one EDSA as the massing of crowds and the other was put down in another. But that should tell you a lot. It can be done either way. One thing is clear if President GMA resigns, it will prove yet again that the fascists and their foreign sponsors rule.

It is worth noting that it was a Vice President of the United States Henry Wallace who was the first to clearly and accurately point out who the real American fascists are, and what they’re up to. “The really dangerous American fascists are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.” So is it in the Philippines.

The Makati Business Club’s omnipresence in the rally (reportedly footing the bill for the rally) is not surprising. Italian Giovanni Gentile wrote in the Encyclopedia Italiana: “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

It may be that the Arroyos are guilty of the same but we must be able to distinguish between true democrats and those who pretend to be democrats by using democratic lexicon. “American fascists would have to lie to the people in order to gain power. And, because they were in bed with the nation’s largest corporations — who could gain control of newspapers and broadcast media — they could promote their lies with ease. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection,” Wallace added. That is not difficult to translate in Philippine terms circa 2008 and the interpretation of recent events by media owned or influenced by big business.

A dangerous alliance

Here's a forwarded article that presents an interesting view of our political culture.

A dangerous alliance

By Leondro R. Lojo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:33:00 03/01/2008

We are all being made witness to an amazing spectacle, and although this isn’t the first time that blindness and hypocrisy are seen holding hands, it is, nevertheless, an amazing sight.

Two forces have come together. Each already poses a lot of danger to any society, so just imagine what they can achieve together.

On one side of this alliance are the misguided idealists. These people never outgrew the martial law era. They believe that the only way to express patriotism and love for country is by screaming their lungs out in the streets while holding a placard with a defaced picture of the President. These misguided idealists have arrogance running through their veins as they believe that they have a monopoly on righteousness. Whatever they do, they do because it is in the best interest of the nation. Well, since when did spray-painting a U-turn sign on Commonwealth Avenue with bold black letters that read “OUST GMA” [“OUST GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO] become part of promoting the nation’s interest?

They have so much hate against the government that they have become allergic to rules. Their ideas push them to believe that the government and the people running it are perpetually bound to oppress the poor and enrich themselves. They make this eternal call for change, yet they don’t change—or better yet, they don’t want to change. These people waste resources, time and energy by burning effigy after effigy. They believe that only through noise, disorder, turbulence and confusion can a new society be born—descending slowly and graciously from the heavens, like the New Jerusalem, with angels singing in the background. Yes, that’s how blind they are.

In their minds, they are catalysts of change. In reality, they are plain and simple anarchists. They should start looking for jobs and become more productive.

On the other side of this alliance are the politically motivated personalities, hypocrites to the bone. They are using scandals and controversies to become more popular, and their end-goal is to get the highest political position possible. And they have been quite successful. Last year, we saw young congressmen rise to the Senate based, not on merit and achievements, but on controversies they had destructively stirred.

They are populists because it’s the only way they can climb the political ladder. They can’t enact strategic legislation, which will provide long-term benefits, such as developing the transportation system, increasing exports, improving revenue collection and assisting businesses, because all these entail short-term sacrifices, which might cost them their positions—a risk they are unwilling to take.

All they do is complain, and they complain with a fiery passion to make the people believe in the fantasies they are selling. They are polemicists, criticizing without presenting solutions and alternatives. They speak only words that are pleasing to the ears of the masses. When they face political dilemmas, their decisions are based on what would profit them politically, not what is right and just. They are slick talkers, and if you’re not careful enough, they can easily deceive you.

This is a dangerous alliance, as it seeks to plunge society into chaos. They want our society to lose any semblance of stability so that they can create a new order. But even they themselves have no idea how it will function.

But I am not afraid. They cannot achieve anything unless we let ourselves be used by these political clowns for their own blind and selfish goals. They can make as much noise as they want, but they need many more warm bodies to join their ranks before they succeed in destabilizing our society. I have already counted the many curious, naïve, gullible, ignorant and politically immature countrymen who are neither misguided idealists nor hypocrites but will take part in this political adventure, and they still won’t make it.

I can hear the noise, but I still can’t feel the heat. After each and every protest rally, the crowds would fizzle out, the streets would be left empty and dirty, and the leaders of the carnival would be eating a fancy dinner while most of the gullible people they drew into the activity would be walking home. Every demonstration sends a clear and strong message to the whole world that while countries across the globe are taking measures to strengthen their exports, develop their industries, attract new investors and ensure their competitiveness in a fast changing, globalized world, we are busy playing on the streets of our financial district.

Having taken this unpopular stand, I ask:

Why do we have to change the government, when we are all part of the problem? Imagine how much more we could have achieved if all the wasted time, resources and energy were utilized to enact good legislation, build more houses, establish more schools, help small and medium enterprises, and construct more roads.

Why do we waste time, resources and energy in asking the President to change or to change the President when we can, in our own little ways, bring about change? When will we realize that we have better things to do? When will we understand that regime change, right here and right now, will not solve anything?

In this day and age, genuine reform and revolution no longer necessitate the dramatic street episodes of the martial law era. Today, our society’s transformation depends on small, quiet, often undocumented steps toward political and economic stability.

I refuse to be part of this political circus of blind and selfish clowns.

Leondro R. Lojo, 23, has a master’s degree in political economy from the University of Asia and the Pacific and works as a research analyst in a risk-advising company.