DARK CLOUDS ON AZURE PHILIPPINE SKIES
March 5, 2006
Prelude to a
bloodbath? Can this be prevented?
Yes! If the
ruling elite in the Philippines and the Filipinos in America and
other parts of the world can devote a little more of their time,
their money, and their compassion to the welfare of the 79 million
of their people who are suffering greatly.
Yes! If the
Filipinos in America and other parts of the world can sway the
thinking of the powerful in America - the religious leaders, the
executives of the mammoth American corporations operating in the
Philippines, the government leaders and their advisers, even the war
freaks in the American Military - not to support violence in the
resolution of profound economic, social, and political problems in
Yes! If it will
finally dawn on the Americans and the international community that
military assistance to or outright intervention in countries in
turmoil and on the verge of becoming "failed states" - Iraq,
Afghanistan, and possibly the Philippines - can only embroil the
entire world resulting in massive dislocations, death, and misery
for millions of human beings, in the midst of unbelievable poverty
worldwide, in the midst of an unfolding "clash of civilizations"
which knows no borders.
Yes! If the
National Democratic Front and their fraternal organizations and
other "progressive" groups on the Left side of the political
spectrum, that could conceivably include the reformist groups in the
Philippine military who feel that the elite in Philippine society
have been using them to further their own selfish interests can
organize themselves into one broad united front, similar to the
Uruguayan "Frente Amplio" so that they can provide the Filipino
masses with an alternative to the oligarchic, exploitative political
groupings who have been dominating Philippine society.
Yes finally. If
even just 300,000 of the estimated 3 million Filipinos in the United
States will register to vote and participate in the electoral
processes there and vote for the leaders who will manage the
Philippines instead of just shrugging their shoulders and muttering
imprecations and telling themselves: "What can I do?" thus leaving
the final decision in choosing their leaders to the naÔve and easily
manipulated Filipino voters who choose incompetents, movie actors
and actresses, the wolves in sheep's clothing, the hack religious
leaders, and the perennial plunderers collectively referred to
contemptuously as "Trapos", in the Filipino national language,
meaning "dirty dish rags".
rhetorical questions and the succeeding suppositions spring from the
recent events in the Philippines last month. Last February 24, 2006,
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a US-trained Ph.D. in Economics,
declared a State of Emergency because
"elements in the political opposition had conspired with
authoritarians of the extreme Left represented by the National
Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's
Army and the extreme Right, represented by military adventurists
- the historic enemies of the democratic
- who are now in a tactical alliance and engaged in a
concerted and systematic conspiracy, over a broad front, to bring
down the duly constituted government elected in May 2004."
Philippine and international media were replete with reports that a
brother of the super rich Cojuangco family, ex President Cory Aquino,
Peping Cojuangco, and a "Pastor" Saycon were at the core group
planning the entire strategy which involved groups and personalities
agitating for massive reform in the Philippines through whatever
means, in this case through "extra-constitutional means". A Time
Magazine reporter was even quoted as saying that Pastor Saycon
called someone in America assuring him that if ever, the Philippines
would still be "friends" with America and not with
Communist-Capitalist People's Republic of China.
February 26, 2006, leaders of the Philippine Marines debated among
themselves whether to "withdraw support" for the administration of
President Arroyo. By a narrow vote of 9 against withdrawing support
and 6 in favor of withdrawing support, the Philippine Marines
decided to "follow the chain of command" in the Philippine Military.
through a very "democratic process", an elite military group of 15
Filipino generals, a possible bloodbath was avoided, albeit termporarily, until there is a strong government in the Philippines
whose leaders would be considered as being invested with the mandate
of the Filipino people without any doubt, one which will get the
respect of the majority in the Philippine military, the National
Democratic Front of the Philippines, the Muslim separatists, the
bandit groups such as the Abu Sayyaf, foreign governments, and the
majority of the 87 million Filipinos.
afterthought, I wonder where the other groups orbiting around Dr.
Francisco Nemenzo Jr.'s "Laban ng Masa" were while all of these
things were being hatched. For one, one of its members, UP Professor
Randy David was temporarily out of circulation.
the Philippine Military reorganizing itself, the civilian supporters
in a quandary, the oligarchic elite wondering what next, what of the
National Democratic Front? I suppose the protracted and armed
struggle will continue until the 7,107 islands are inundated by the
fast-developing global warming because of the melting ice caps.
meantime, the wife of an impoverished garbage-scavenging couple, was
in agony. According to a reporter, her husband was severely wounded
when security guards shot him while they were picking garbage and
scrap to sell to recyclers. In tears and in grief she told the
"What do we
care about protests and coup d'etats and Arroyo's emergency power?
That's a game for the rich and powerful and we, the poor, will
continue to toil every day regardless of the result." She did not
know where to get the money to buy the medicines and the bandages
for her wounded husband, and their food for the night.
we go to press, President Arroyo is reported to have lifted the
declaration of emergency. The threat of a coup d'etat has been
charges have also
been filed against some 50 opposition members, military personnel,
and lawmakers for attempting to remove Arroyo, her ruling group, and
the government, whatever that means, so that a "Transitional
Revolutionary Council" is organized.
Does it matter?
No. Only the very naÔve will say that "Happy days are here
again." For as long as the conditions that breed massive discontent
are there, and the majority of the Filipinos are wallowing in
poverty and a hopeless future, aggravated by questions of the
legitimacy of her mandate as President of the Philippines, the dark
clouds hovering on the azure Philippine skies will continue to be
[This article is reprinted
from "The Filipino Insider", a monthly supplement of "The
San Francisco Chronicle", one of the major periodicals in
America with a distribution of 500,000.
The author was a former faculty member of the University of the
Philippines Department of Political Science. He is one of the
original founders of the Filipino-American Forum of San Francisco in
California and an occasional columnist of the Los Angeles-based "Manila
He can be reached at