Why were former MNLF fighters deployed in Malacañang?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-03-11
Where the enemy deploys his largest force is also where the enemy feels most vulnerable. Napoleon Bonaparte said that as he watched the deployment of British troops before the Battle of Waterloo.

Napoleon was winning the Battle of Waterloo and would have struck a mortal blow to the European Allied Forces if not for the timely arrival of the Prussians.

Thus, that “Unity Walk” that the Palace staged between Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) and her Cabinet — and copied afterwards by the AFP and PNP generals — could be nothing more than what Napoleon aptly described. It’s a show of force to hide an innermost fear. From the looks of events that followed, that would appear to be the case.

Take the repeated claims of General Hermogenes Esperon, AFP Chief of Staff, and his top generals that the AFP remains loyal to the chain of command and will strictly abide by the Constitution.

A more credible AFP Chief, Angie Reyes, also said the same thing over and over again in 2001 before Angie shifted allegiance and Joseph Estrada was forced to vacate Malacañang. I say Angie was a more credible AFP Chief because, unlike Gen. Esperon, Angie was never linked to a big scandal like the Garci Tapes.

Also, the Estrada regime never had the occasion to be openly challenged prior to EDSA II by anybody in the AFP or PNP. The GMA regime has already experienced three military uprisings of sorts — the 2003 Oakwood Siege, the February 24, 2006 aborted withdrawal of support and the November 29, 2007 Peninsula Hotel Standoff.

While these previous military incidents seem to be mere body boils than volcanic eruptions, still these underscore the softness of the ground where those fattened generals of GMA march.

Right after the mammoth February 29 Interfaith Rally in Makati, the AFP generals admitted that there was active recruitment going on and that the AFP Chief of Staff himself was invited to join a planned withdrawal of support. From their very mouths they refuted their own claims that all is quiet in the military front.

Last March 5, Gen. Esperon admitted to media the deployment of former MNLF fighters (who have been integrated into the AFP) as part of the defense perimeter around Malacañang Palace.

Most Filipinos will be curious as to how that deployment was decided upon. Palace security is one of the highest levels of security arrangements in the country and so one would be justified to question the wisdom of assigning former enemies to guard so sensitive an area.

In fact, many (our late STAR publisher Max Soliven was one of them) expressed concerns that the former MNLF fighters who have been inducted into the AFP may still be harboring their rebel cause and may just be waiting for the right time to inflict a crippling blow from within to the AFP.

Despite such concerns — how could the AFP decide to deploy the former MNLF fighters in Malacañang during a period when there is a red alert and a raging public issue that could altogether produce another People Power event and political upheaval?

Of course, this has everything to do with feared threats to the Palace occupant in the wake of the growing unrest and activism demanding GMA’s resignation. This deployment could not have been made if there wasn’t a compelling reason to deploy former enemies to what is the most secured area in the country today.

My ever-reliable Palace Insider revealed to me that this was done because they feared that there was an imminent threat from within the Palace itself. Now, this reason is quite believable. It could only be for this reason that they would risk deploying the former MNLF fighters — specifically because they are not Mistahs and are insulated from the rest of the Mistahs.

If the danger was already from within their very core defense perimeter, then it follows standard operating procedure to bring in a factor with no possible links to the “contaminated” lot.

More than highlighting the desperation of the regime’s position under the growing ferment, what this reinforces is the fact that indeed there are forces that can push the country towards a military takeover or a civil war. This proves the deep rift in the AFP officer’s corps which has manifested during the 2003 Oakwood Siege.

I am also told that GMA’s February 29 trip to Camp Crame may also be tied up to the feared threat inside Malacañang. My sources are consistent in saying that GMA fears the AFP and feels more comfortable with Ronnie Puno’s PNP.

That’s what she thinks. I’m not sure if Puno’s PNP is that reliable.

Pepe Diokno warned Ferdinand Marcos shortly before martial law was imposed: “Mr. Marcos, you may be able to create a throne of bayonets but you can never sit on it.” Today, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is beginning to feel just how sharp those bayonets can be.

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