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SAMARNONS AND A MILITARY TAKEOVER IN PINAS, A BLOODBATH?

By ADDI BATICA
April 2, 2005

In a message dated 4/1/05 3:47:11 PM, basaynon49@yahoo.com writes:

<< Mano Profesór -

If you want my personal take (given, as you said, that a junta is inevitable), here's a formula that would make such an eventuality more "palatable":

Follow the "Guatemalan Model" of 1944, where a cross-section of society took to the streets with sticks and stones after the dictatorship of Gen. Ubico launched a crackdown. At that point, the more moderate elements within the Guatemalan military led by Col. Arbenz-Guzman and his good friend, Gen. Juan Jose Arevalo were able to regroup and turn the tables on the dictatorship, by forging an alliance with the people in the streets.

It was more or less a "people power" type of action, except that the civilian crowds were armed with machetes, sticks, stones (and some had low-caliber firearms). The dictator fell, in the same year, Arevalo was elected president. Four years later, he gave way to his friend, Jacobo Arbenz. The years 1944-1954 was Guatemala's "springtime of democracy"....until Arbenz was toppled by a CIA-backed coup in 1954.

I can't tire of reading about Arbenz, because during the 10 years of "springtime", a comprehensive land reform program was put into place, and huge tracts of United Fruit property were confiscated. Other radical reforms were introduced, including basic services for the poor and Indian population.

It was in Guatemala where Che Guevara, fresh out of medical school, found refuge after escaping Juan Peron's secret police in 1953. Che opened a clinic under government sponsorship and many Indians benefited from the services of the highly idealistic Argentine doctor.  Of course, during the CIA backed coup of 1954, Arbenz had to flee to neighboring Mexico, and so did Che (where he would eventually meet a young lawyer by the name of Fidel Castro).

Castro, then a rising corporate lawyer in Havana, had very shallow ideological grounding, in fact, his political "awakenment" took place in 1948 in Bogota, Colombia where he attended a youth conference (he was sponsored by Perón's government) and later on took part in the infamous "bogotazo" - Colombia's major bloodletting where more than 500,000 citizens perished (it was a "battle royale" between conservatives and liberals, which ignited after the assassination of Julio Eliecer Gaitan, a stalwart of the Liberal Party).

Like I said, Latin America is quite different. But who knows if we have an Arbenz or an Arevalo within the Philippine military. And who knows if, by some miracle - some elements within the military establishment might find common cause with those who are simply sick and tired of the way things are. My fear, though, is that ours will just be a "blood-blood" kind of affair, dinuguan a la carte. There's a lot of built-up anger behind that Filipino smile and though I hate to admit it, violence is as Filipino as dinuguan. Our history is written in blood, but the sad part about it is - in spite of the amount of blood shed so far, we have yet to see the shadow of redemption lurking in some corner.

I'm sorry for boring the group with stories of Latin America, a place under the sun that has always fascinated me. But why shouldn't I look somewhere for parallels or similarities? We are still a former Spanish colony with more things in common with Latin American countries than with our own Asian neighbors. A tough spot to be in, but that's where we are. Sometimes I'm tempted to think that the conquistador blood in our veins is somehow responsible for this propensity for violence.

We are a people brought up with the cross and the sword, by friar and conquistador - a rosary in one hand, a .45 in the other. As a Venezuelan friend of mine would put it, "We're very much alike". How true.

We keep hoping for some "bold" and "enlightened" moves taking place somehow, but all we have is hope. In hindsight, Sanlakas' call during EDSA 2 could have made a difference. Back in 2001, their call was "Resign Estrada, Resign All". And really, given that EDSA 2 was a power grab anyway that was constitutionally nebulous at best, an interim government or a civilian-military junta could have been set up - without the "queen-in-waiting" and without the same old faces of the status quo. But of course, it was a revolution with the slogan but without the meat. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

And so here we are, still caught in the crossfire between Right and Left. What to do? Honestly, the only thing I'm praying for is a miracle.

Addi

++++++++++

Ceasar1185@aol.com wrote:

Addi,

As usual, this is very incisive and very passionate. But I as expressed to a colleague here in the Internet who wants a Military Junta in the Philippines, if they want it, they will do it. Especially if the Pentagon and the CIA will support a Praetorian takeover in the Philippines so that they can watch the piracy in the Straits of Malacca, the discontent especially among the fundamentalist Muslims such as Jemaah Islamiyah, and of course, the national democratic struggle in the Philippines.

We can exchange tons of emails here and nothing can prevent this kind of possibility. After all, power is the ultimate arbiter. As Trasymachus says: "Might is right!" Look around the world.

And lately of course, the killing of Marlene Garcia-Esperat is a dramatic example of the exercise of power. Shoot dissenters on their heads.

Cesar Torres

++++++++++

In a message dated 4/1/05 7:26:14 AM, basaynon49@yahoo.com writes:

Ano nga coup d'etat? The Philippines is not Latin American where, although admittedly there are many fascists in their military and police hierarchies, the spirit of nationalism (read: "Love of County") still runs deep. Our country just happens to be the Philippines, and I'd be a fool to trust a military person to set things in order. And I don't care if this military guy is a PMA, West Point, or Annapolis graduate.

Our breed of military people are just different. As terrible as the situation in Latin America is, every now and then some military guy shines, for example, Col. Arbenz Guzman of Guatemala (in 1944) or Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru (in 1968).

In recent years, the Uruguayan military - inspired by the "Peruvianist Model" of militaries (nationalistic, pro-land reform, pro-national industrialization) moved gradually to normalcy after dominating the Uruguayan scene for more than two decades. That's how they were able to hold elections and install a socialist doctor as president.

The Tupamaros guerrilla movement, seeing a rare opportunity of winning via a non-violent struggle decided to switch tactics. Right now, the Uruguayan Senate is dominated by ex-Tupamaros, in fact, the senate president is an ex-Tupamaro commander. Such a scenario is highly unlikely in the Philippines.

For one, we have a reactionary (and corrupt) military establishment. On the other side of the spectrum, we have a guerrilla movement that considers parliamentary struggle as "bourgeois". Their idea of participating in the political arena is "All or nothing". Whereas in Uruguay, most everybody was willing to tone down a bit - for the sake of bringing back normalcy and sanity to their country. In other words, the spirit of nationalism runs in almost sector of that country and in their view it's La Pátria first, over and above everything else.

And this kind of thinking is also very much alive in Perú - when the going gets tough, everybody rallies around the flag.

In the Philippines - when the going gets tough, many folks fly to Vegas to indulge themselves, or fly to S.F. or NYC to "deposit' their ill-gotten wealth. We still have a long way to go. Sering pa hadto hin usa nga cura ha Basay, "Dako pa kita nga mirisyunon."

At the same time, the majority of the population will also have to change. Remember how many times I have ranted and raved about "paradigm shift"? Kundi damo gud it magtig-a it ulo. Tolerate corruption, and it will spread. Go for the easy way of getting money, and this ailment will spread and paralyze.

Let's remember now what Sangkay Quint has been saying all this time, about many folks who love to live off the sweat of others. This is the kind of psyche that's prevalent in the country these days - easy money, easy life. For all intents and purposes, while we do know to "antos" and what "antos" means, we have yet to grasp the true meaning of self-sacrifice for a higher cause - Inang Bayan.

If our neighbors in Southeast Asia have left us behind economically, politically, culturally and everything else - it's because as a general rule, the citizens of those countries have "malasakit" for the motherland. It makuri man ha aton kay puros la familia ngan kamag-anak it aton kinikilala.

Not that it's wrong to care for one's family, but sometimes we have to go outside the family circle if we have to bring some semblance of sanity to the country. Sometimes - the family and family loyalties can be like false idols that people are worshipping, they anesthesize people from the real issues that are pushing us to the brink.

Diri la it capitolio it may problema, bisan ngahaw it aton mga panimalay may problema. Raul summed it all up in his piece about 'Hayukat" -we get the government we deserve.

Addi

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