What if the Reds resort to terrorism?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-03-15
Puny minds and arsonists share something in common: they deal with problems by pouring gasoline on fire. The desperately stupid are too shortsighted to consider long-term consequences.

The Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) regime, for example, has turned to militarization in order to deal with its troubles. Armed military personnel in conflict areas in Mindanao and strongholds of the Communist insurgency have become as ubiquitous as the country’s teeming poor. Now, even Metro Manila’s blighted communities have not been spared of this show of force and might.

Madame Arroyo’s preference for generals is quite understandable. She survives by the support of her loyalists in the top command of the police and armed forces. Additionally, the military culture of obedience to the chain of command is a welcome contrast to the more discerning, less accepting deportment of the more acknowledged leaders of civil society.

Except for one general, all members of the Hyatt 10 who resigned from her cabinet in defiance over the Garci mess were all civilians.

While GMA, for now, feels well protected beneath the shadow of her military caretakers, regardless if they are still in active service or not, she is also courting risks to herself and the entire nation. History is replete with stories of military men turning against their own leaders and the nation they have vowed to protect and uphold.

The lingering question on Madame Arroyo’s legitimacy to rule, the escalating climate of repression, her continued slide in popularity – all make fertile ground for an ambitious cabal of generals to justify a power grab "in order to restore public order and trust." If indeed the militarization of Metro Manila is a unilateral move of the AFP top command, how sure is GMA that this scenario is not playing out already? What terrorism can unleash
The Catholic Church and other sectors have every reason to be worried about the Anti-Terror Bill. In the hands of a regime given to a climate of impunity, that is like providing a license to go berserk. Now wielding its anti-terror bill, it is determined to finally tag the NDF-CPP-NPA (National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army) as a terror group.

This is again the product of puny minds that just can’t see the bigger picture and the far bigger complications. Supposing they succeed in declaring the NDF-CPP-NPA as a terror group, what will these organizations stand to lose if they now decide to operate as terrorists? Have any of the regime’s bright boys thought about how that dreadful scenario can impact on the economy, much less the peace and order situation?

The Reds are smart operators and will likely avoid hitting civilians in the crossfire. But what if they start bombing establishments all over Metro Manila as the failed December 1989 coup plotters had done in 1990 and 1991 against the government of Cory Aquino? Did a GMA bright boy figure out what that will do to Arroyo’s fragile economy?

Supposing that, for good measure, the new terror group decides to start hitting official targets like generals, government agency heads and unpopular local cops like what the Sparrow Units of the late 1980s did? How does that make Madame Arroyo look to the nation and the international community? What happens to the drive to attract foreign investors?

With only the prospect of a bad May election, risk analysts are already cautioning clients, suggesting that they hedge their bets on the Philippines. Go figure how they will react when bombs start detonating all over Metro Manila and other key cities like Cebu and Davao or when public officials start getting killed or kidnapped.

One gets the impression that the regime operates by compartments, sans a cohesive and rational overall strategy for development. There is the finance and economic team to handle the economy and business – the heads of Trade, Finance, Energy et al.

Then there is the "political survival" team operating in a vacuum and focusing hard on preserving Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo by hook or by crook. In this team are the Executive Secretary and heads of the AFP, PNP, Defense, Local Government, National Security, Justice and so forth.

What the Imperial Guard was to Napoleon, this "political survival" team is to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The "political survival" team rules the roost.

Under this setup, it is easy to appreciate why the more rational, longer-term and forward looking output from the finance and economic team tends to be given less attention and importance than the more urgent task demanded from the "political survival" team. The latter deals with immediate threats to survival and prescribes short-term solutions. They see poverty and protest as tumors and they blast it.

But the tumors are of a type that can only proliferate even more under oppressive conditions. We have a social cancer and they call the armed forces.

  Previous Columns:

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

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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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