Why we're suckers for a civil war
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-07-22
The kidnapping of Fr. Giancarlo Bossi could have set us on the road to civil war as was discussed in last Thursday's Chair Wrecker column. The fact that Fr. Bossi was released in Lanao del Norte — and not in MILF territory where the bloody AFP-MILF skirmish recently took place — lessens the animosity that fuels a dangerous push for an all-out war in Muslim Mindanao that could in turn trigger a country-wide civil war.

An all-out war in Mindanao could have easily escalated into the dreaded confrontation between the political and military factions in our country. We could have been unwittingly dragged into a state of civil war if the Opposition enters into an active partnership with the junior officers.

Deep divisions in a country can lead to civil war. While civil war tries to force an end to divisions — in truth, it divides a nation even more. It leaves a bitter aftermath of pain and anger that takes ages and generations to heal.

Civil strife usually results from conflicting preferences of two factions on how they want to be governed. Sometimes, it is caused by irreconcilable differences and perspectives on socio-economic policy. Civil war happens when citizens of a nation find themselves in such a divided state of mind and unease until finally — one or both sides decide they must force their will on the other.

The American civil war resulted from differences in economic policy espoused by the North and South states of which slavery was an aspect of the issue. American historians hyped the myth that one side’s desire to emancipate black slaves triggered the civil war.

That is pure rubbish. The blacks were still fighting for emancipation 100 years after the civil war. The truth is that the American civil war was fought for greed and commerce — hardly the much-touted-about noble cause many Americans were made to believe.

The English civil war happened two centuries earlier, pitting Parliament against the Stuart Royal — Charles I — who lost his head after losing the war. China’s civil war decided if China will go communist or remain feudal.

We Filipinos have lived with deep divisions for so long. By being in denial, we have allowed the problems to multiply and worsen. Unlike the movies with happy endings that Filipinos love to watch, a nation in denial never resolves its conflicts.

A most real and alarming issue that can push us to the brink of civil war is the persistence of the oligarchy, represented by our traditional politicians, to shift to a parliamentary form of government where the only obvious rationale is to avoid real reforms.

Since the misery of our people is caused by the economic stranglehold of the oligarchy, meaningful reform can only take place if this encumbrance is lifted. Shifting to a parliamentary form with the oligarchs well-entrenched as ever will only provide this ruling elite with more effective infrastructure for abuse and injustice.

Joe de Venecia's Charter Change (Cha Cha) shoots two birds with one stone by promoting an illusion of change that would pacify people’s clamor for system change while giving a new name to an old system of exploitation.

Last year's attempt to push Cha Cha was met with strong public rejection but the persistence of the few who unfortunately have the means to somehow impose their agenda could lead the country to civil war. It is unlikely that the majority will allow the Cha Cha scheme to succeed. Filipinos value their power to vote, especially their power to select the top executive of the land.

Lucky for those who oppose Cha Cha that the face of Joe de Venecia (JDV) is what defines the proposed Charter Change. For many Filipinos who are by nature peaceful, fighting a civil war will be acceptable if the option is Joe de Venecia sitting as chief executive of the land.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's (GMA) recent joke (or is it a Freudian slip) about running for Congress in 2010 may be a signal to pursue Cha Cha so she can re-invent herself as the new Prime Minister (PM). A GMA signal to go all-out for Cha Cha will certainly give it a fresh impetus. If there is one person who can beat JDV to the post of PM, it is GMA.

While it is true that the American and English civil wars paved the way for major positive developments in those two countries, civil war as an option is not to be promoted. Like other violent means, civil war has no guarantees for success.

It can lead to worse situations as what we saw in African civil wars. And the price of development is just too costly. There is nothing more precious than human life. The UK and the US achieved progress not because of their civil wars but despite their civil wars.

But if civil war can no longer be avoided, then at least let’s fight a civil war for all the right reasons. Let’s not be sucked into one for all the wrong reasons or worse — for reasons most Filipinos do not even know.

Democracy versus dictatorship, democracy versus oligarchy, democracy versus military rule — yes by all means let’s fight and shed blood if need be.

But for Joe de Venecia to become top executive or for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to remain in power — we don’t need a civil war to prevent that. It’s simply over 80 million of us versus very few of them!

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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