The wind of change starts to blow
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-05-22
Any keen student of history will have felt the wind of change now threatening to sweep the country. The veteran political watcher is like a human seismograph. He detects the rumblings when a major political earthquake is about to happen.

The cheating in the recently concluded elections had been so well recorded by myriad new media technologies for all to read and see. Most damning for the Arroyo regime is the report of the foreign observers who attributed the main source of the cheating to what they called Planned Mismanagement by the Comelec (Commission on Elections).

Smart rulers, who can foresee that the wind of change cannot be thwarted, bend with the wind and allow less severe political changes to happen. The ferocious Scottish Highlanders had a dictum – better a good retreat than a bad stand. Indeed, political damage control is the wiser alternative to total wreck.

In 1986, President Ferdinand Marcos saw that he could no longer prevent the tide of change and so he wisely agreed to be flown to Hawaii. This spared him and the country from a bloody civil war. For his wisdom, Marcos died in bed, his family spared from bloodshed.

In contrast, Russia’s last Tsar, Nicholas II, played a deaf ear to the destabilizing events that sounded the alarums of worse things to come. His great mistake was in allowing Russia to get sucked into joining World War I.

Unfit to fight in the mechanized war of the 20th century, Russia’s internal problems went from bad to worse. The Russian Tsar consequently lost control of his army and government – opening the doors for the Bolsheviks to grab power. The Tsar and his entire family were eventually massacred by the Bolsheviks in Yekaterinburg.

Similar options now face the people who have mismanaged our country.

Just what are the indicators that a powerful wind of change is now gathering strength over the horizon and threatening to emerge as tomorrow’s mega storm? Consider the following:

1. Even if cheating succeeds in reversing the results of the Pulse Asia exit poll, this will not erase the fact that the people voted overwhelmingly to support the Opposition. Arroyo and her minions will be foolish to delude themselves that majority of Filipinos are not demanding reform and change.

2. The phenomenal rise of the political star of detained army officer Antonio Trillanes IV could well be the people’s expression of willingness to resort to extreme measures in order to attain reform.

3. The public repudiation of people who are closely identified with Gloria Macapagal Arroyo – Mike Defensor, Manny Pacquiao, Lilia Pineda, Prospero Pichay et al – reaffirms public resentment against her regime.

4. Similar to 1986, the outpouring of volunteers to protect the 2007 vote manifests the people’s intense desire to effect change through the ballot.

5. The rumblings from the military – the way they denounced the illegal orders to produce a 12-0 outcome in the camps for the administration Senate ticket – would indicate that there is a military component to the developing political force that seeks reform.

6. The on-going persecution of Alan Cayetano is generating emotional reactions from many Filipinos who empathize with the underdog.

7. In an election, the majority rules. But it is not quite the same with unconventional and often violent political upheavals. A mere 10 to 20% of Filipinos who decide that legal avenues are no longer available will be more than enough to create the conditions for a bloody revolution or civil war.

The biggest danger to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Like Marcos, she holds the key to providing the process for the least severe prescription for attaining political change. Unlike Marcos, she can test the limits in which she can get away with these acts of impunity.

Right now, the country is like an over pressurized volcano, long overdue for an eruption. Many writers have long expressed fears about this brewing social explosion, including my friend – the late STAR columnist Teddy Benigno.

I often disagreed with Teddy on when this could happen. But we never doubted that it will happen if our social conditions do not improve. If you know your history, then you know that it will happen sooner or later.

Our social conditions and the huge wealth gap provide the fuel that has been sustaining the Leftist rebellion for more than 30 years. All over the world, the Left has lost its appeal except for a few Latin American countries that approximate our socio-economic profile.

Elections are the best means to let off the political steam in a country, to relieve the pressure. Frustrate the expression of the people’s will and you court rebellion or revolution.

The sad reality for Arroyo is that a Pulse Asia exit poll has far more credibility than a Ben Abalos Comelec. After seeing the results of the Pulse Asia exit poll, people will not believe a Team Unity Senate victory, not even an equal number of Senate winners as that of the Opposition.

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