Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Notes on the May 10 elections

THE MAY 10, 2010 ELECTION has been bandied about as the cleanest and the most peaceful election since the restoration of this exercise after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. This is attributed to the computerized election which ensured the quick counting of votes so that there would be no sufficient time for any of the trapo (traditional politician) to cheat the votes.

However, there have been many reported election irregularities according to independent organizations which observed the elections. These include the distribution of ‘faulty’ compact flash (CF) cards which delayed the voting and transmission of results; the failure of several Board of Election Inspectors to use ultraviolet lamps to verify the authenticity of the ballots; the actual number of disenfranchised voters (from 2.5 million to five million mostly first-time voters according to the watchdog Kontra Daya); and the many reports of malfunctioning precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

Even the camp of former President Joseph Estrada, who’s tailing behind Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino Jr., claimed that the compact flash cards and memory cards had been preprogrammed to certain candidates who bought them for fees for as much as P30 million. Estrada’s lawyers are now demanding that the flashcards be examined during the canvassing in Congress slated next week.

But the votes for Noynoy Aquino look believable from all accounts. With Noynoy just waiting for the proclamation, we are now ushering in a new administration that carries with it the mantle of the seemingly incorruptible regime of Cory Aquino, the mother of Noynoy and the saint-like icon who governed the country for six years immediately after the Marcos dictatorship. People’s euphoria will not be like the initial years of Cory’s, but there will surely be a honeymoon period between the broad ranks of Noynoy supporters, including the more than 14 million people who voted for him, and the administration that Noynoy will set up.

Will Noynoy’s administration be able to govern under a formidable opposition now composed of Arroyo’s Lakas-Kampi-CMD party? Will Noynoy compromised his declared intent to persecute the Arroyos for cases of plunder and crimes against the people? Will Noynoy reverse the disastrous economic and fiscal policies pursued by the Arroyo government to the detriment of the Filipino people? All these remain to be seen when Noynoy starts to form his own cabinet machinery; but this early, many have noticed that Noynoy himself or some of his advisers have started to talk about recruiting in his cabinet the likes of Gibo Teodoro (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidential candidate) and some others in the Arroyo camp. There is a strong possibility that Noynoy and his camp may strike some deals with the Arroyo camp and with other trapo clans to mitigate the division among factions of the elite and to ensure the stability of the state.

Noynoy’s victory

Noynoy’s victory is a confirmation that the main issue in the election was the high-handed corruption of the Arroyo regime. People voted for Noynoy because they were sick and tired of the never-ending cases of graft and corruption involving the Arroyo family and their sycophants. Noynoy’s campaign slogan “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” may not be true (as poverty emanates not mainly from corruption but from class exploitation and class rule) – but it rings the bell and has attracted a broad number of people to support Noynoy in the election.

Conrado De Quiros, in his column at Philippine Daily Inquirer today, even called Noynoy’s running as “an Edsa [feat] masquerading as an election” as it mobilized people not only to vote for Noynoy but to vote for the ending of nine years of misrule, or illegitimate rule, of the Arroyo regime. Calling Noynoy’s campaign an Edsa (or a ‘people power election’) is plain too much, but the fact is that Noynoy won on the strength of anti-Arroyo sentiment. During the election, this was also proven in the trouncing of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, General Hermogenes Esperon, Jocelyn ‘Jocjoc’ Bolante, who, among others, were all well-known Arroyo henchmen.

During the campaign, it was not only Noynoy who represented the people’s ire against Arroyo. ‘Erap’ Estrada also thrived on it, and the fact that he landed number two in the counting despite his perennial number three status in the surveys proved the validity of the anti-Arroyo sentiments. What Erap lacks was media support, and it was this support that catapulted Noynoy to a very early lead in the surveys and in the people’s minds. The media campaign for Noynoy started immediately after Cory’s body had been laid to rest on August 5, 2009, or nine months before the elections. After this, almost not a day passed that Noynoy was not mentioned in the media, or graciously featured in the ABS-CBN TV stations that supported his presidential campaign to the hilt.

Trapos galore

However, the main beneficiaries of the anti-Arroyo votes were also the trapos in opposition to Arroyo. Most of them are not even consistent opposition as they were formerly allied with Arroyo and the administration party. They only jumped ship when they thought Arroyo’s ship was already sinking. Take the top 12 senatorial winners in the election. All of them belong to the trapo clans. All, except Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., the son of dictator Ferdinand, were former senators who are now making a comeback. The surnames of the top winners represent the trapo clans which have been well-entrenched in various parts of the country (except for Drilon who has just started a trapo career of his own): Revilla (Cavite), Estrada (San Juan), Defensor-Santiago (Quezon City), Enrile (Cagayan), Cayetano (Taguig), Recto (Batangas), Sotto (Cebu), Marcos (Ilocos Norte), Osmeña (Cebu), Lapid (Pampanga), and Guingona (Bukidnon).

The only non-trapo Left candidate who was running close to the ‘magic 12’ is Risa Hontiveros, a former Congress representative from the Akbayan Party List. Hontiveros’ rise to number 13, bypassing even other senior trapos, is by itself phenomenal. This is proof enough that the Left has a chance of taking on top electoral position. As number 13, Hontiveros might still make it if she is allowed to fill up the vacancy in the Senate with the ascension of Senator Noynoy Aquino to the presidency. But the ungrateful trapo senators who have won through massive trapo machinery and buying of votes have already decided to exclude her even if there has been a precedent for this – in a previous election in 2001, the number 13 senatorial candidate (Gregorio Honasan) was taken in due to the promotion of then Senator Tito Guingona to the vice-presidency.

Other Left candidates such as Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, the incarcerated military rebel, Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna, Liza Maza of Gabriela Party List, and Atty. JV Bautista, former representative of Sanlakas in Congress, occupy lower ranks in the senatorial list of candidates.

According to some Left observers, the May 10 elections consolidated the rule of 100 political clans, more or less, starting from the presidency down to the local elective posts in the country. What does this mean? If we grant that the election were fair and square, as what the Commission on Election and the government always say, then it would mean that the masses are still beholden to trapo candidates and to patronage politics that characterize trapo rule. This in a way constitutes the explanation of some quarters in the Left why the Left has failed miserably in the 2010 elections.

Dismal performance of the Left

However, we cannot simply blame the low level of political consciousness of the masses to account for the dismal performance of the Left in the elections. The Left had it all coming since its intervention in the elections in general failed to draw a distinction between its politics and that of the trapos.

First, a pragmatic alliance had been formed by various sections of the Left with various sections of the ‘lesser evil’ trapo candidates and political parties: the Reaffirmist (RA) Left established an alliance with multibillionaire Manny Villar and its trapo Nacionalista Party; the Akbayan Left and other sections of the Rejectionist (RJ) Left formed an alliance with Noynoy Aquino and the Liberal Party; JV Bautista ran under the Partido ng Masang Pilipino of former President Joseph Estrada; and so on. The only candidate that was snubbed by any section of the Left was Arroyo’s anointed Gibo Teodoro who was seen by all as representing the ‘most evil’ or the ‘principal enemy’.

Secondly, while others may argue that there is nothing wrong with striking an alliance with the ‘lesser evil’ or with the ‘secondary enemies’, the alliance with sections of the ‘lesser’ trapos prevented the Left from projecting its own unadulterated platform. It came to the point that some of the Left even defended the platform of their presidential candidate as the “most patriotic and progressive”, as in the case of the RAs support to Manny Villar. The Left was not only inundated by trapo-style campaigns – the personal bickerings and mud-slingings, the show-biz mindless glitz, the extravagant and costly paid advertisements, etc. – at worst, the Left also joined the fray. At best, their campaigns promoted some reasonable demands, although couched in motherhood platitudes.

The Left’s strategy in the elections became mired with pragmatism. Critical voices now coming from among the RAs call it Right opportunism. The strategy merely aimed at gaining material and political advantages that translate into funds and possible posts in the bureaucracy. Instead of aiming to expose the bankruptcy of the election, the rottenness of trapo politics, and the debauchery and shenanigans of the elite; instead of highlighting the difference between the Left’s platform and program compared to that of the trapos and the elite – funds and resources or posts in the bureaucracy became the overarching aim of intervening in the bourgeois election.

What would it matter had the Left won with this kind of pragmatic strategy? We might have posts in the government but the masses would not have learnt a thing about the moribund character of bourgeois rule and politics. It would not contribute to the development of class consciousness, struggles and experiences of the masses. If we intend to come to power through lies and subterfuges, or through an alliance with the forces that we are in fact intending to depose in a revolution, then we have no right to call ourselves revolutionaries. Opportunists perhaps, as the RA critics of the Villar alliance are now calling the architects of this deplorable alliance.

Limitations of the bourgeois electoral system

Thirdly, while we acknowledge the problem with this ‘pragmatic’ approach to bourgeois election, we have to say that the issue goes beyond the pragmatism of the Left forces. The nature of the bourgeois election goes against the nature of the revolution; it is the method by which the next batch of representatives of the elite gets to take their seats as the new executive committee of the ruling class. It is the manner by which trapos are reproduced on a fever-pitch scale. The bourgeois electoral system itself has a built-in defect that is disadvantageous to the working class masses. The electoral system has been perfected to the extent that it systematically blocks all attempts of the Left and the socialist forces to use the electoral arena to capture crucial posts in the state machinery. The Left understands this, and this is probably the reason why pragmatism has a sway among the Left during periods of election.

So far for the Left, the only possible opening in the parliamentary structure has been the party list system. This was one of the lasting gains brought about by the dismantling of the Marcos dictatorship through the Edsa uprising. The party list groups are mandated by law to join the elections and to elect representatives coming from the so-called marginalized sectors of society. But the party list system has its severe limitation; it could only acquire 20% of the seats in Congress, or 53 seats in a 268-member Congress.

Up until 2007, the Left and all other party list groups could only send up to 20 members in Congress. In 2007, the rules had been relaxed to allow the filling up of the 53 seats, although it was also in the 2007 elections that the Arroyo regime launched a demolition operation to decimate the number of Left representatives in the parliament by fielding a number of administration-supported party list organizations.

Because the Left and the marginalized sectors were only considered as trimmings in a trapo-dominated and trapo-controlled Congress, the former could not even sponsor pro-people bills that would pass in the legislative body’s second reading. For the Left, Congress has simply become a source of funds (from ‘pork barrel’) and other resources that ordinary trapos receive and enjoy in the course of their duties. The only difference is that the Left is using them to expand their ranks and to undertake campaigns for its mass forces.

Trillanes opening

While the Left make do with the openings in the lower house of Congress, one military rebel was able to crash into the halls of Senate, the upper house of the legislature. Navy Lt. Sonny Trillanes was elected senator in 2007 despite being in jail for organizing a military mutiny in 2003 (he’s still in jail). Everyone knows that Trillanes won also because of the anti-Arroyo sentiment of the masses.

This was the feat that jailed military rebels Brig. Gen. Lim and Col. Ariel Querubin were trying to duplicate by running as senators, but the Trillanes factor failed to materialize in the polls. This could be attributed to a number of factors: one of which may be the Trillanes example itself, which means that if Lim and Querubin win, it would be a ‘waste of vote’ all over again since like Trillanes, the two could also not function as senators while they are in jail. On a negative point, the Trillanes example was also about the failure to use the Senate to project continuing resistance against Arroyo rule and the elite rule in general. Trillanes’ continued incarceration and his attempt to justify a senator’s work with the number of bills he had authored while in detention actually worked to his disadvantage. He simply could not blend in or keep up with the humdrum work of the Senate given his predicament, and yet he was expected by the masses to be more daring, radical and bombastic in his dealings with the Arroyo regime.

Anti-trapo campaign at the local level

By merely focusing on the sidelines of electoral politics – i.e., concentrating on party list intervention or tail-ending dubious alliances with trapo forces – the Left failed to project itself as a serious independent force that could contest bourgeois rule. On the other hand, progressive individuals not belonging to any organized Left forces have taken the lead in concretely contravening trapo rule in their areas, like Fr. Ed ‘Among Ed’ Panlilio and Grace Padaca who ran in 2007 as governors in Pampanga and Isabela, respectively, and won through people’s power-type of electoral intervention.

Panlilio and Padaca lost in today’s election, but this just got to show not only how well-entrenched the trapos are, but how much problematic it was to maintain and manage a reform platform in the midst of the dominant and dominating trapo politics. The reforms that Panlilio and Padaca tried to introduce were hemmed in by the non-support of the national bourgeois government and the unrelenting sabotage of the trapo forces (composed of several mayors and other influential capitalist and landlord forces) in their provinces.

In the 2010 election, another model for the Left was the campaign launched by Ric Reyes, a Left leader who ran for mayor in Pasig City. The campaign was commendable for its uncompromising politics. Reyes ran under a transitional platform that highlighted his activist bearings and his socialist politics. His rival came from the main trapo clan of the Eusebios, which was considered a warlord clan in Pasig, the alleged mastermind of the killings of political opponents and the coddler of the drug syndicate in the city. Reyes lost the elections, but managed to get 20% of the votes which was substantial considering the high-level type of political campaigning he did in a warlord-dominated city.

Latin American electoral strategy

In a letter to a comrade residing in Bolivia, I mentioned that our party the PLM (Partido Lakas ng Masa) was adopting the Latin American electoral strategy of building local bases first in order to contest the national leadership in future elections. The comrade replied that this was not the Latin American strategy at all.

The strategy, he said, was not focused on building local bases first, but on preparing the capacity to contest the presidency through a broad alliance of progressive and socialist forces. It means using the strength of the mass movement, and in some cases the mass uprising, to force the scenario of changing the bourgeois leaders of the land by the combined forces of the Left, the social movements, and the broad progressive forces. These have been the experience, according to him, of the electoral victory that brought Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales into power in Venezuela and Bolivia, respectively.

Here in the Philippines, it is surprising to see that the Latin American electoral strategy is being practiced not by the Left but by such organization as Kapatiran, a middle-class based (read: petty-bourgeois) party with strong support from the Catholic Church hierarchy. Kapatiran has run a high-profile campaign on its platform (the right to life, or anti-abortion, is a crucial campaign pitch), and it has fielded candidates from the presidency down to senators and other local seats. Its daring electoral stance and projection made its presidential candidate a contender in almost all presidential debates organized by media and civic organizations. Through these highly-publicized events, also shown on several television channels and aired on several radio programs, the Kapatiran candidates were given a full hearing and were able to elaborate on their platforms. By contesting the top post, they were able to expand their ranks, build networks, and increase their projection as a contending group. While this is happening, the Left has been marked out in the sidelines, doing deals with the trapos in order to carry out its peripheral campaigning. Imagine what the Left could have done had it aspired to intervene ala-Kapatiran?

From boycottism to pragmatism and back?

Given the nature of bourgeois election and the limitation of the bourgeois electoral system, the Left can always take a choice between two options of boycotting the election or intervening in the election. The latter has always been the debate when the Left was mainly (not solely) the Communist Party of the Philippines with its Maoist upbringing. Time has moved on, and both the RA Left and the RJ Left (as well as the Left of other traditions too) have taken a participatory stance with regard to post-Edsa elections.

The Left has to acknowledge that to intervene in bourgeois elections means to tread on tricky ground by balancing between the objectives of winning electoral seats and raising the level of the consciousness of the masses. Some of the critical voices within the RAs have now raised anew the issue of participating in the 2010 elections as this has “deflected [their] strategic march” towards a strategic stalemate of the guerrilla war in the Philippine countryside (see

I think the Left should assess its intervention in the 2010 elections, including the previous elections, to learn its lessons well. But in a quick response, I am reminded of Plekhanov’s assessment of the failed 1905 revolution in Russia and Lenin’s classic reply. Plekhanov said, “The working class should not have bore arms”; Lenin replied, “On the contrary, they should have bore more arms”. To paraphrase: We should shun the idea that we should not have contested the elections; on the contrary, we should have contested it more. It means we should have aimed at the top, and should have stayed focus till we get to the top.

May 17, 2010

Friday, July 31, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Snake's Gambit

National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales goes to town peddling the idea that the solution to the current political crisis is through a military-backed transition government.

The transition government, according to Gonzales, will be represented by a Council of State that shall include President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, representatives from the two houses of Congress, the judiciary (namely, Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno), the Church (the CBCP or some Catholic bishops), and the military (headed by General Victor Ibrado). Gonzales also wanted to involve representatives from the civil society and the political groups in the country.

Gonzales likened this transition government to the “revolutionary government” established by former President Corazon Aquino immediately after the 1986 people’s power uprising. But my view is that Gonzales’ transition government is nowhere near what Cory established in 1986. Reading the updated edition of Criselda Yabes’ groundbreaking book The Boys from the Barracks (now available again at several bookshops), I say it could be likened to the Council for National Reconciliation, a council of state that was supposed to replace Marcos in the event of a successful coup d’etat engineered at that time by then Secretary of Defense Johnny Enrile and the RAM forces.

As envisioned, the Council for National Reconciliation would be composed of Enrile, Fidel Ramos, Cory Aquino, Salvador Laurel, Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, businessman Jaime Ongpin, and diplomat Alejandro Melchor. The Council did not materialize. Instead, Cory Aquino took power and declared a “revolutionary government” all by her lonesome.

Gonzales’ Council of State

The idea behind Gonzales’ Council of State is to bring together all the bickering political groups towards a non-violent transition of the tottering state machinery. Gonzales stresses the “revolutionary character” of the Council in so far as it will aim to do away with the constitutional impediments in the latest attempt to amend the Constitution and introduce “electoral reforms”. Gonzales’ transition government is designed to ensure Charter change through the continuation of the Con-Ass or the establishment of a handpicked constitutional commission under a cloud of emergency rule.

It was reported that Gonzales’ timetable for the imposition of the transition government would be anytime between August and September, or a few weeks before the filing of candidacy for the 2010 elections. Come November, the political climate will have to veer away from any extra-constitutional scheming and focus on the campaigns and the elections.

Gonzales raves about the transition government as the political elixir to the bickering between the two houses of Congress, to the intermittent power-grab plotting among factions of the ruling classes, and to Gloria’s desperate attempt to hold on to power at the expense of destabilizing the entire political system. With a council of state that includes almost all of the political players that matter today, Gonzales assures everyone that the transition period will be stable and smooth-sailing compared to any other initiatives pursued by various contending forces.

This is probably the “selling point” that got some Catholic bishops agreeing to the idea of a transition government. For them, it could be another form of getting rid of GMA. GMA will be in the transition government only as an “unwilling accomplice” or crudely put, a captive by all the other forces surrounding her in the so-called council of state.

Gonzales himself explained that the plot will involve several steps intended to unify the motley forces that will compose the transition council. First, an agreement with the bishops; next, with Chief Justice Reynato Puno; then, with the military; the civil society; etc.; and finally with GMA herself.

Who is Gonzales representing?

There are a number of issues that need to be clarified in the Gonzales’ proposal:

First, has this proposal got a backing from GMA? If it has, then what would that make of those people who have agreed to the council of state set-up, such as CJ Puno as reported by Newsbreak (see or from what we heard, those supposedly anti-GMA bishops? Could GMA charge them later on as part of “conspirators” trying to grab power from her administration?

Second, for the transition government to be proclaimed, it will mean that the normal constitutional avenues for change have failed, so that the only recourse will be through extra-constitutional exercise. If the transition government is not a product of a people’s uprising (ala-Edsa), then it can only be imposed through emergency rule or a coup d’etat.

So what does it mean? That Gonzales is doing a double agent’s job? He’s working for the Queen, but his overture with the anti-GMA opposition looks like he is bent to checkmate the Queen. But in Gonzales’ scheme of things, the Queen will still rule. Does this mean just an attempt to flush out all probable contenders to the throne? Is it the Queen’s gambit then?

But knowing Gonzales, or how he has managed to put himself in the center of all this plotting, it is more correct to say this is a Snake’s gambit than anything else. #

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Diabolical August Moon

August 6 is the calendar day when there’s going to be a full moon. It is also the day that marks the imposition of emergency rule, according to Oplan August Moon, a plan that is rumored to be the handiwork of “hawks and ideologues” within the Arroyo government upon the order of President GMA herself.

The plan is to position military generals friendly to GMA in a self-coup that would bolster the administration’s bid to amend the Constitution before the end of the year, or before the 2010 elections. The charter change is ultimately designed to extend GMA’s stay in power either as a “transition president” or the first prime minister under a parliamentary government.

Major details of Oplan August Moon have been circulating in the Internet in the past few days. [For full disclosure of Oplan August Moon, see attached an e-mail that was passed on to my address.]

PNP Director General Jesus Versoza and other government officials have laughed off the plan as preposterous and a creation of some opposition “propagandists”.

But what makes Oplan August Moon believable to many has been the sequence of events that preceded the leaking out of the plot, and more so, the wave of bombings that are happening today which have been predicted in the plan.

‘Revolutionary’ transitory government

A week before Oplan August Moon was leaked to the media, GMA’s national security adviser Norberto Gonzales floated the idea of declaring a revolutionary “transitory government” composed of the leadership of the two houses of Congress, the judiciary, and the Church. It will be a collective leadership under the helm of GMA herself. Virtually, it is an extension of GMA’s presidency.

According to Gonzales, the transition government will amend the Constitution and put in electoral reforms before the 2010 elections. The transition government is ‘revolutionary’ in the sense that it will have to dispense with any Constitutional impediments related to Cha-cha and the prerogatives of the president.

The Gonzales’ proposal is clearly a ‘palace coup’ in line with the Oplan August Moon. The plan can be seen as the implementation of the proposal, with a clear military’s role as back up to the ‘transitory government’.

Now, the bombings

Oplan August Moon also indicates the intensification of an environment of chaos and confusion leading to the declaration of emergency rule. The scenario involves “bombings, assassinations of key government officials and members of the media”. These operations will be blamed to the Jemaah Islamiyah or the Al-Qaeda members who were reported earlier on by the media as being in the country already.

As of today, there has been a wave of bombings in Mindanao, beginning with a Sunday blast outside the Cotabato cathedral which claimed the lives of six persons. On Tuesday, three more bomb attacks occurred in various parts of Mindanao – an explosion hit Jolo and Iligan City, killing two more people and injuring scores of others. The bombings have not only hit Mindanao. A bomb was detonated near the Ombudsman building, and another one was found near the Department of Agriculture.

At first, the military pointed to the rogue elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as perpetrators under a supposed “grand plan” to sow terror in Mindanao. The MILF has quickly denied the charges. As of today, the military and police forces have declared red alert in Metro Manila. The chief of military’s NCR command, Maj. Gen. Leo Fojas, now declares that the bombings were undertaken by a “terror group” composed of three to four members of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group, a rogue unit in the MILF, and the Jemaah Islamiyah of the global Al-Qaeda network.

A few days after the Cotabato bombing, former ISAFP member and whistle-blower Vidal Doble declared that only the government could be behind the bombing.

Insiders’ expose

Oplan August Moon and the diabolical plan to impose emergency rule in the country have fanned deep divisions among factions of the ruling elite.

Former House speaker Jose de Venecia condemned the bombings as part of an administration plot to impose emergency rule, or martial law, as envisioned in Oplan August Moon. De Venecia even exposed that during the Manila Peninsula hotel siege in 2007, GMA had almost declared martial law. “If she nearly did it once, she could do it now,” the ousted speaker lamented.

Prior to de Venecia’s bombshells, former senate president Franklin Drilon has also linked up the bombings to GMA’s plan to impose emergency rule. If these people, who were formerly part of the inner circle of the Arroyo administration, are now warning the people of the plot to impose emergency rule, then Oplan August Moon seems to have been already put in place.

People’s vigilance

The Inquirer editorial today sums up the sinister situation developing today. While the government seems to be whipping up paranoia to justify martial rule, it is a virtue for the public to also act paranoid. Not to fall into the trap of the government’s line, but to understand that there are indeed many enemies of our democracy, starting from the snakes and vultures at the Malacanang palace itself. The Inquirer said, “They exist, and are waiting only for the people’s vigilance to weaken.”

Attachment re Oplan August Moon

“Oplan August Moon ( Hope to write some of my thoughts on this in days to come...)

Posted by Patricio Mangubat on Monday, June 29, 2009

Brace yourself my friends for a tumultuous July. Some months ago, I've wrote an entry about the plan of hawks and ideologues within the Arroyo administration to create scenarios to implement Operation August Moon. This self-coup will happen the week after the SONA, on August 6, 2009. One of the indicators, say a source who requested anonymity, is the expected failure of the poll automation bidding.

" Pat, the plan involves compromising the automated bidding altogether, " says a friend privy to the plan. " Imagine, what was the reason why they approved of Smartmatic-TIM (the company that won the COMELEC's bid for election automation in the Philippines) when they know for a fact, that the only capability of the group is face value of Cezar Quiambao and Ernest Villareal. That's all. The so-called consortium which was backed legally by one of Comelec chairman's closest relative was never in existence. They just used the group to get the bidding and eventually the plan was really to mess things up. That would surely create unrest especially to the De Villa group who is pushing for automation of the elections."

COMELEC Chairman Jose Melo said in an Inquirer interview that they don't want to negotiate with a "ghost". Well, I don't know about Melo, but I am totally surprised with Atty. Rafanan. Why did Rafanan failed to even check the credentials of Smartmatic-TIM before they even allowed them to take part in the bidding? Is it elementary for a member of the bar to do that?

This failure of the Comelec just shows that the entire thing was a setup, a design to really sabotage the bidding and compromise the elections in May 2010.

The plan also involves the heightening of tensions between rebel groups and the military in Mindanao since most generals distrust Southcom Brig. General Juancho Sabban. They want to keep Sabban busy in Mindanao so that he'll have his hands full while they orchestrate their moves in Metro Manila (a bomb exploded in the Ombudsman building and the discovery of another bomb in the Department of Agriculture building?).

Sabban is the youngest member of Class 1978 yet he reportedly does not share his mistahs' dogged allegiance to Mrs. Arroyo. He was formerly a member of RAM (Rebolusyunaryong Alyansang Makabansa). Yet, says deeper sources in the military, he'll take extreme action once other members of his class went ahead with Arroyo's plan.

Moves were to create an environment of chaos and confusion, with reports of bombings, assasinations of key government officials and members of the media. These black operations will be blamed to so-called JI or Al-qaeda members who, a week ago, was reportedly in the country already. News about their existence were floated to the media to be used later on by the government in the blame game.

A move against Lacson accuser former police official Cezar Mancao is reportedly also in the pipeline. The source refused to say what would happen to Mancao.

This early, talks that PMA Class 1976 of which the present AFP Chief of Staff General Ibrado belongs to and PMA Class 1978 were already at logger heads. Army Chief Lt. General Delfin Bangit is reportedly filling up sensitive posts without the knowledge of Ibrado.

Bear in mind that all sensitive positions right now in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are occupied by members of Class 1978. The Air Force is headed by Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena. The entire NCRPO which has, under its disposal, the anti-coup task force, is headed by Chief Supt. Roberto Rosales while the head of the Manila Police District which provides external security of Malacanang right now is headed by Director Rodolfo Magtibay.

Members of Class 1976 occupy the Central Command (Lt. Gen.. Isagani Cachuela), the Navy (Vice Admiral Ferdinand Golez) and the Marines (Major Gen. Ben Mohammad Dolorfino). The AFP leadership is also being occupied by a PMA class 1976 member (Ibrado) and the PNP (Director General Jesus Verzosa).

The critical commands (Army and Air Force) are under the command of members of PMA Class 1978 while those with minimal numbers (the Marines and the Navy) were entrusted to PMA Class 1976.

Sources say Mrs. Arroyo's group will ease Ibrado out prior to the 2010 elections. They will use as a pretext this August 6 affair. Members of Class 1978 will move decisively ten days after July 27.

The plan is expected to take place on August 6, 2009, a full ten days after the SONA (SONA is slated on July 27, the Monday of the fourth week of July).

A state of martial rule will be imposed for six months, while members of Arroyo's devilish clan tinker with the Constitution. Parliamentary elections are slated on May 2010.

Other members of Class 1978 involved in this plan:

In GHQ, Camp Aguinaldo:

J2 (Inteligence) – Rear Adm. Victor Martir (PN – Philippine Navy)
Deputy J2 – Commodore EfrenTedor (PN)
J3 (Operations) - Maj. Gen. Carlos Holganza (PA – Philippine Army)
J6 (Commel) – Maj. Gen.. Jonathan Martir (PM – Philippine Marines)
J7 (Civil-Military Relations) – Maj. Gen. Sealana (PA)
DND-BAC Chairman – Brig. Gen. Gregorio Paduganan (PAF – Philippine Air Force)
Chief of Engineers – Maj. Gen. Rudyval Cabading (PA)
ISAFP – Maj. Gen. Romeo Prestoza (PAF)
Presidential Security Group – Brig. Gen. Celedonio Boquiren (PAF)

In the Army, six out of 10 infantry divisions are under the control of the Class of ’78 members, namely:

Lt. Gen.. Delfin Bangit – Commanding General of the Philippine Army
Maj. Gen. Roland Detabali – CG, Southern Luzon Command
Maj. Gen. Romeo Lustecteca – CG, 1st Infantry Division (Zamboanga del Norte)
Brig. Gen Florante Martinez – OIC, 2nd Infantry Division (Tanay, Rizal)
Maj. Gen. Vic Porto – CG, 3rd Infantry Division (Panay Island)
Maj. Gen. Ralph Villanueva – CG, 7th Infantry Division (Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija)
Maj. Gen. Manuel Tabaquero – CG, 8th Infantry Division (Catbalogan, Samar)
Maj. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu – CG, 10th Infantry Division (Caraga Region)

In the Air Force, there is Maj.. Gen. Oscar Rabena as Commanding General, and Brig. Gen Jesus Fajardo – CG, 710th Special Operations Wing as well as Col. Carlix Donila – Commander, 530th Air Base Wing (Zamboanga).

And in the Navy, the chief of the Naval Staff, Commodore Feliciano Angue, as well as heading the most strategically- located naval station in Cavite is Commodore Nestor Los Banes.

So now the game of the generals are on! Who'll be check mated in the end?

Now that I already revealed their plan in public, what now? Will they proceed with zero hour or not?

The best strategy against this devilish plan is expose them in public. I already did my part. How about the thousands of Patriots out there? Will you do yours?”

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Soliman Scenarios

In an e-mail message circulated by former Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, she enumerated a number of distinct scenarios that could unfold after the passage of HR 1109 by the House of Representatives. The listing down of the scenarios was an attempt by various NGOs and people’s organizations to strategize and to prepare in advance for any eventuality related to President GMA’s scheme to extend her rule. The scenarios, according to Soliman, were discussed during a meeting of various NGOs and people’s organizations opposed to the Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass).

Scenario 1: The HOR convenes as a Con-Ass. It sets the rules and proceeds to amend the constitution. A case is brought to the Supreme Court against the convening of Con-Ass. The SC decides that the Con-Ass, even without Senate approval, is valid. The plebiscite affirms a yes victory and May 2010 election is held for a parliamentary form of government. GMA runs on a district in Pampanga, she wins, and eventually becomes the first prime minister of the country.

Scenario 2: The HOR convenes as a Con-Ass. A case is filed in the Supreme Court and the SC declares that the Con-Ass is unconstitutional. The May 2010 presidential election goes unimpeded.

Scenario 3: The HOR convenes as a Con-Ass. There was rebellious outrage from the masses. Malacañang organizes ‘violent incidents’ to justify clampdown. GMA imposes emergency rule.

Scenario 4: The HOR convenes as a Con-Ass. A case is filed in the Supreme Court. The SC could not decide on time. The May 2010 elections continue. GMA runs for Congress in Pampanga and wins. Under a new president allied to GMA, Con-Ass continues and the SC finally affirms it. The Congress is converted into a unicameral body and GMA is elected as prime minister.

In these four scenarios, only Scenario 2 (the unimpeded May 10, 2010 elections) is considered in the Soliman email as the only one favorable for the citizenry. Scenarios 1, 3 and 4 are not desirable as they all point to GMA’s usurpation of power and extended rule either as prime minister (Scenario 1, 4) or dictator (Scenario 3).

If one’s framework of analysis is based on the mere continuation of regular elections, i.e., the usual elections dominated by different factions of trapo parties and individuals vying for seats – then, I would agree that only Scenario 2 is desirable.

However, for those who are really wanting authentic and radical change in the trapo politics, all of these scenarios open up opportunities to build a movement that can get rid of GMA and her cohorts, or even the entire trapo rule, during the course of its development.

For instance, the mere convening of Con-Ass, which is palpably designed to perpetuate President Arroyo to power, signals a number of opportunities to mobilize the masa and to work for GMA’s ouster during, or even before, the 2010 elections.

There are a number of ‘flashpoints’ or critical points where mass resistance may break out in the process leading to GMA’s extended rule as prime minister or dictator. The convening of the Con-Ass during Congress resumption on July 27 and thereafter will build more outrage from the people. The Supreme Court’s probable decision to allow the Con-Ass is another occasion for the build-up of people’s wrath. The plebiscite will be a massive campaign period for those opposing the amended constitution. The election (whether under a presidential or a parliamentary system) can also be a hotbed for resistance.

In the scenario involving GMA’s declaration of emergency rule, the outbreak of mass resistance will be more massive and decisive. Any attempt to reimpose martial law will be met with powerful opposition coming from all sectors, including from the nationalist and pro-masa soldiers.

The eruption of massive resistance is not an overly optimistic assessment, especially if one takes into consideration that all the scenarios infer stages of denouement where the masses and the political movement are provided the opportunities to intervene and to have some time to gear up for combat. While the trapos have their heydays, the forces for change are still intact and, with perseverance, can be mobilized to do battle.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Talking ‘Bout A Revolution

Former Senate President Franklin Drilon warned the Arroyo government of massive street protests that would lead to a revolution should it continue with the Con-Ass plan.

This warning comes in the heels of a series of protests that erupted after the ignominious passage of House Resolution 1109 by the Lower House two weeks ago. With the Resolution, the House can convene itself as a constituent assembly, without the Senate, to amend the constitution and pave the way for GMA’s continued rule after 2010.

Is the revolution imminent? Drilon replied, “The Filipino people may suffer hunger and economic difficulties in stride but I don’t think they will stand idle while President Arroyo and her cronies stamp on their political rights just to be able to hold on to power. The majority of the Filipino people may be silent but Malacañang should not mistake this for complacency and submissiveness.”

I am of the opinion that there is really something in the air. And this we witness almost daily through strings of actions in the streets lambasting GMA, the House and the Con-Ass. The actions may still be small in number, but the responses from the common people are quite overwhelming.

I found out that the Shame campaign of BMP, PLM and Sanlakas against those representatives who voted for HR 1109 has been gaining support from the masa in the streets. The activists throwing rotten eggs at the LTA building in Makati last Thursday were egged on (pun intended) by onlookers to target the top floor where Mike Arroyo holds office. Last Friday’s noise barrage of Akbayan and other groups at Philcoa were greeted with wild honking by motorists passing through the site.

And the protests will go on. The convening of the Con-Ass during the Sona or after the Sona might be the final straw that will break the camel’s back. This will look like the Senate envelope inquiry during Erap’s impeachment trial, which spurred Edsa Two and led to the exit of Estrada from Malacanang.

But first, some comments about the revolution.

I think that Drilon is really wishing for a revolution, but I guess he just meant an Edsa-type ‘revolution’ once again. Which means that the people will be called to rise up to ensure an unimpeded electoral exercise that will only put new trapos in power.

I have always maintained that the two Edsas have never been a revolution in the strict sense of the word. They overthrew governments, but they only replaced the persons in charge with those belonging to the rival factions of the same ruling classes.

A revolution is an act where the ruling class is overthrown by an oppressed class which then takes power. This is not the type of revolution that we saw in the two Edsas. Edsa 1 replaced the Marcos dictatorship with an elite democratic regime under Cory. Edsa 2 merely replaced the corrupt Erap government with a more corrupt government under GMA.

This does not mean that we should not welcome the acts of those trapos who are hitting at GMA, including former President FVR who asked her to come clean and stop ‘titillating the nation’. All these verbal tussles indicate the deepening rift that is driving a wedge among the trapos today.

The Con-Ass must be stopped. Not only because it will perpetrate the rule of Arroyo, but also because it will perpetrate the subjugation of our economy to the imperialist interests (through the Chacha that it will propose). Moreover, the Con-Ass represents and perpetrates trapo rule in the country.

The real revolution is yet to come. This is the revolution that will pit the forces of the masa against the forces of GMA and the trapos. And Con-Ass is an issue that might bring the masa in droves to protest in the streets.

It is important that all those who oppose Con-Ass should come together to build the main force that will stop the Con-Ass. But the direction of this anti-Con-Ass movement can not be the mere replacement of the Con-Ass trapos with another set of trapos, or the replacement of Arroyo with another presidential trapo.

Hence, it is imperative that the masa build their own anti-Con-Ass movement independent from the trapos who also oppose Con-Ass. To paraphrase the words of advice of the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin to the working class movement vis-à-vis the capitalist class which was also opposing tsardom: We should march in unison with all the trapos opposing GMA and the Con-Ass, but we should never, never merge our movement with them. #