The wisdom in the words of your enemies
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-05-25

In the 11th century kingdom of ancient Korea, an unlikely monarch was counseled by the Head Lama of the Buddhist Temple where he grew up and was educated. Not being in the line succession, the boy was assigned to the Buddhist monks so as not to be a threat to the rightful successor. 

However, two bad monarchs almost ended their dynasty and it eventually fell on the shoulders of the unlikely monarch to sit on the vacated throne. Before the young man’s departure for the palace in order to wear the crown, the Head Lama gave the future monarch this priceless advice — be very wary of the suggestions of friends and advisers but be always on the lookout for the wisdom in the words of your enemies.

It is easy to accept the wisdom in the first part of the Head Lama’s advice. History shows us how many monarchs were brought down by the bad advice of friends and advisers. However, the second part of the advice — to get the wisdom in the words of your enemies — seemed illogical. After all, an enemy is not inclined to provide the foe with wisdom and advantage. An enemy seeks to bring down the foe, not improve his chances of success.

Because this monarch ruled with wisdom, his reign was marked by a prolonged period of peace and prosperity. He was able to vanquish all their internal as well as external threats. Instead of ending, their dynasty lasted for three more generations.

What the Head Lama meant when he counseled the emerging monarch to get the wisdom in the words of an enemy is not to literally follow what the enemy proposes or demands but to detect in what the enemy says the way the enemy thinks, what the enemy really wants and what the enemy truly fears. When you’ve mastered how your enemy thinks, what your enemy really wants and what are your enemy’s greatest fears — then you’re on the way to predicting and controlling your enemy’s behavior.
In our local setting, a recent interview on ANC with Lakas Kampi CMD Party officer Prospero Pichay could provide incoming president Noynoy Aquino with invaluable insights as to how the soon-to-be opposition party thinks, what they want and what they fear most. In the said ANC interview, Pichay conveyed the following:

1. He claimed that their party will not impede the legislative agenda of the Aquino administration and that they will cooperate if the legislative agenda is good for the country.

2. Pichay also claimed that their party did not have any intention of impeaching soon-to-be president Noynoy Aquino.

3. Pichay explained that cooperation will be extremely difficult to arrange if the Aquino administration will prosecute Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA).

Applying the advice of the wise Head Lama, this is how your Chair Wrecker would assess what Pichay was really saying, thinking and fearing. First of all, they do not want to be out of the loop. They would be happy to be in coalition with the new administration. Second point is this — contrary to what Pichay said, they know and will use their option to impeach if Aquino presents them the opportunity to do so. Lastly, no cooperation is possible if hostile acts are made against GMA.

Obviously, GMA still wields a lot of influence in the Lakas Kampi CMD Party for her personal protection to be considered a major consideration in a possible coalition with the incoming Aquino administration. How long her party mates will continue to protect her from possible prosecution remains to be seen. How loyal are these people she had trusted to be her allies? How much money is she ready to give to retain their loyalty?

This is not to suggest that Noynoy Aquino should rush to work out an accommodation with the Lakas Kampi CMD Party. One of the main points of his mandate is to right the wrongs of the past. The last thing Noynoy voters will want to see is a deal where GMA goes Scot-free in exchange for cooperation. Cooperation without justice will result in a massive erosion of Noynoy’s political base.

This Aquino presidency will be no different from that of Cory, his mother, which was a minefield from day 1. The coups may no longer be in fashion but ejection could be attained through other ways. Impeachment is a very real threat to the Noynoy Aquino administration and the process is legal and constitutional.

The election results show that Aquino’s Liberal Party is greatly outnumbered in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Getting the numbers in order to place Sonny Belmonte as the Speaker of the House is easy. But when push comes to shove and Aquino’s political enemies close ranks, the 30% vote required to forward an impeachment complaint to the Senate can easily be attained. And in the Senate, the odds are even greater against Noynoy.

The last thing Noynoy needs in his administration are the bulls in the china shop, the likes of which also eroded the popularity of Cory during the first two years of her term. Noynoy must surround himself with people who can neutralize threats without compromising the ideals he stands for and people who will not create unnecessary enemies.

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