National Non-Recovery

I’ve been up into the wee hours trying to come up with some kind of input on this situation in the Philippines. Other government officials have called the “grievances” of these soldiers “legitimate” — accusations of military corruption and government schemes to maintain power through Martial Law — but these simply do not strike me as credible, especially in the sense that they demand President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s immediate removal for complicity in these plots.

First, we can acknowledge that rampant corruption is a given in the context of the various dealings of Philippine government and military, so the allegation that the military has been selling weaponry to various rebel groups is easy to believe — considering prior reports of collusion between ranking soldiers and the Abu Sayyaf. What doesn’t ring true is the idea that this is being done with Gloria’s blessing, as this would be inconsistent with her whole political strategy of — to be frank — sucking up to GWBush and the War on Terror.

Second, the idea that Gloria has been complicit in plans to instigate bombings and unrest in the city, in order to provide a pretext for extended martial rule, simply smacks of outlandish conspiracy-theory craziness. No one in current or previous administrations since Ferdinand Marcos has had the gall to try and pull that kind of power stunt, precisely because of Ferdinand Marcos’ own example. That’s why the 1987 Constitution imposes limits on certain executive powers and makes the President fully accountable to the legislature for the declaration of Martial Law, thus cutting back on the risk of a return to a military dictatorship. (See Article 7, Sec. 18.) It’s also why Gloria came up with the “State of Rebellion”, which grants the president limited emergency powers, without invoking the public dread of Martial Law.

Regardless of how legitimate these rebels’ problems may be, any sympathy I may have for their grievances is completely eclipsed by the brazen threat of force with which they forward their case. One must wonder what they must have been thinking:

“We will show the Philippines and the world the righteousness of our cause by stringing explosives around major malls and hotels, threatening innocent civilians and foreign visitors! That will convince them of how devoted we are to National Recovery!

This line of thought indicates one of two things: overpoweringly passionate stupidity; or what I think is more likely, a deliberate intent to intimidate the Philippines, its business district, and the business district’s visitors with a frightening show of force. They don’t need to push through with those explosives or an all-out gunfight with loyal government forces to accomplish the latter goal: the damage has already been done. Tourists, foreign investors, and key economic decision makers from all over the world will never feel safe in the Philippines, knowing that a ragtag team of “demoralized” soldiers could plant C4 all over Makati and hold them hostage in their buildings so easily.

I think this is a blatantly public attempt to sabotage the country’s government and economy. The result: continued exodus of capital from a country whose industry is overly dependent on foreign investment and tourism, pushing the Philippines ever closer to — or over — the brink of economic collapse. The final outcome will not matter; these terror tactics have already accomplished their goal, and I would not be surprised if we see them surrendering before the 5pm deadline is up.


  1. antifaust says:

    Updates on the Makati Stand-off

    As expected, the government has extended the 5pm deadline earlier issued by President Arroyo. Several minutes ago, a group of rebels surrendered to the government troops surrounding the area. More surrenders are expected as the new deadline draws near….

  2. Vix says:

    Agreed! Agreed! Agreed! The Philippin economy is going to be even more battered and more travel advisories will be created against us.

    It is hardly surprising that they would choose this time considering that Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address is tomorrow.

  3. liwanag says:


    we don’t know everything about that event.Some of my sources indicate that the rebels causes were legitimate and true, but they didnt have enough proof. I started to hate the Magdalo group on sunday Morning, ut as I discovered the truth behind it, hate turned to sympathy. I wish I could tell you the whole story without endangering my sources. And about the conspiracy-theory like accusations, you know enough of this country to know that anything is possible. There’s no such thing as an impossible, improbable or illogical event or motive in the Philippines. Again, I wish I could tell you all.

    Keep up your search for the truth and your personal honesty in this blog. You’ll hear more from me.


  4. Paulo says:

    I have no doubt that the rebels’ causes were legitimate: government and military corruption, the questionable legitimacy of GMA’s presidency, her waffling on the reelection issue, and the instability of the whole situation would drive any Filipino mad.

    But the threatening, high-profile tactics taken by these men — flown in by a “secret sponsor” and sheltered in an Estrada aide’s safehouse, no less — all done WITHOUT SOLID PROOF amounts to nothing but shooting themselves and the whole country in the foot.

    Despite the obstacles they faced in getting out whatever they thought was the truth, there were other channels available besides the course of action they took — which was violent, egregious, and destructive, even though not one bomb was detonated or one bullet fired. That is what leads me to the economic sabotage conclusion, which in itself fits quite well within your own admonition that “there’s no such thing as an impossible, improbable or illogical event or motive in the Philippines.”