Saturday, February 25, 2006

Solita Monsod gives the other side on the Middle Forces

Economist Winnie Monsod has written a column that is an exact representation of my own analysis and sentiments on the current Philippine turmoil.

Freedom of assembly is indeed a sacred right. However it is the citizenry's responsibility not to abuse that right. I'm not saying that the government ought to enforce that responsibility on them. But one error does not offset another. It's like the Danish newspapers' decision to publish those cartoons - a very bad choice, even if it was one one they had a right to make.

Here, where the atmosphere is heavy with military adventurism and sedition at a hat-drop, a responsible (albeit free) citizenry should think twice about feeding the fire.

Failure of poverty reduction is directly traceable to failure of institutions crucial for a stable and thriving business climate. Institution-builders look ahead. Removal of the President is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for institution-building. We are now reaping the harvest sown in Edsa 2. Shall we now sow an Edsa 4, some bizarre hybrid of Edsa 2 and 3? God help us.

Calling for Arroyo's "voluntary" resignation is not a membership requirement for the Middle Forces, is it?

Get Real : Keeping the flame of Edsa alive

First posted 01:14am (Mla time) Feb 25, 2006
By Solita Collas-Monsod

Editor's Note: Published on Page A10 of the February 25, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

COUNT ME OUT of the protest actions at the Edsa Shrine and Makati City disguised as a peaceful celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolt. It is not because I don't want to celebrate it -- that event showed not only us, but an admiring world, the best of the Filipino spirit, and is therefore worthy of recall. But I refuse to celebrate it with people who are cynically using the occasion to further their own political or personal agendas by invoking "the greater good." Truly the last refuge of scoundrels.

By doing so, they are destroying all that the Edsa revolt stands for: the spirit of self-sacrifice for the motherland, with no thought of personal benefit. And what is more, they are encouraging military adventurism that may end up at first with a military/civilian junta, but will, if world experience is any indication, surely metamorphose into a military dictatorship, a la Myanmar with its 44-year-old military rule. That will truly be the height of irony:

They want to change Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (with assertions of her "illegitimacy" that so far has not been substantiated), and will end up with a regime that they may not be able to change at all. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

Those who are calling loudest for Ms Arroyo to make the "supreme sacrifice" and step down for the "good of the country," what kind of sacrifice are they willing to make, if at all? Take the leftists with the red flags who sat out Edsa People Power I and are trying to exploit the event to set up their own government without benefit of elections (to be held only after 1,000 days, if at all). Like the proposed governing council or junta, were they not expecting to be in that self-same governing council themselves?

Take those who resigned their Cabinet positions. Was that really a sacrifice, considering that they seemed to be maneuvering to be in the incoming government (what was that visit to Hong Kong all about, after all)? Or take those who supported them. Weren't they also expecting, and bargaining for plum positions in the successor government?

Take those supposed military "idealists" who want change. What were they doing playing footsies with the New People's Army, whose sworn objective is the violent overthrow of any government that is not theirs? Or people like Scout Ranger Brig. Gen. Danny Lim, who has been in I don't know how many coup attempts, pretended to have reformed and thus rose through the ranks, and now resurfaces as the head of a breakaway group.

Have these people bothered to ask themselves what benefit, or rather, damage, the country has incurred from their activities to supposedly save it?

What about all the hysterical reactions to the so-called "state of emergency," which does not add any powers to the President that she does not already have? It is like the "state of rebellion" declared during -- was it the Oakwood incident? -- that some people immediately described as undeclared martial law. The fact is that there is an emergency situation because there was an attempt by a faction of the military to withdraw support from the government and to solicit participation through the chain of command.

And it is likely that the attempt was made with the support, tacit or material, of others. And it is likely that a few (certainly not all) elements of those participating in the street celebration may want to exploit the situation for their own ends. Provided that the police act with maximum tolerance, what is wrong with taking the necessary precautions to make sure that the assemblies are indeed only peaceful celebrations of a glorious moment in our history?

After all, the spirit of Edsa People Power is not dead, as some people say, perhaps to excuse their inability to mobilize a critical mass in the streets. It is very much alive -- not in those with self-serving agendas or who think of it in the narrow sense of street protests -- but in the quiet heroes engaged in the noble task of nation-building, especially in their own communities, who exercise people power as an instrument to make a better life for themselves, like the parents who work with local officials to improve the education of their children (i.e., Synergeia, about which I have often written), or who make sure that their local officials are accountable for the internal revenue allotments, or who strive to make the justice system work in their "barangay" [villages or neighborhood districts], or who even resort to the recall of non-performing local officials, or who resist projects that endanger their environment.

There are other manifestations of people power at a broader level. Like the private initiative, Gawad Kalinga, that is so purely unselfish in spirit that it has drawn countless people to help build not only homes but thriving communities for the underprivileged. Like government officials both low and high (Gem Carague at the Commission on Audit, and Karina David at the Civil Service Commission) who are engaged in institution-building despite the distractions and politicking around them.

Take those who are disappointed with the impeachment proceedings but know that the ultimate sanction in the accountability process in a democracy lies in elections. Hence, they object to the "no-el" [no-election] scenario and advocate truly credible elections in 2007. A Congress with a different composition can pursue the "closure" of the issue of national leadership.

There are thousands more like them around the country. This year I am celebrating Edsa People Power with them, because of them, for keeping the flame of Edsa People Power alive for all of us.


Rizalist said...

Those who’ve got the time to post comments on blogs, please have a look at this item from Austin Bay (who gets 10,000 visitors a day). He quotes my blog, but there is also this FilipinoAmerican there who is mouthing the admin line. Don’t know if he’s Palace or just another Pinoy enjoying America and making fun of what he got of. But I think it is extraordinarily important for people to stand up to and debate with our countrymen abroad. They don’t know anything but the folks over there listen to them because we sometimes only talk to ourselves. Please visit and comment (don’t be afraid, just be polite and make the right points):

mell ditangco (this is my pseudonym) said...

i agree, so called saviors are nothing but power grabbers in disguise...

Cory, what a joke, she tramples on farmer folk more than anyone i know.

stability is in the best interest of the Filipino...

Econblogger said...


Ahh, lonely voices in the blogosphere, you and I. I think neither of us are in favor of the President, but that of institutions; institutions that are currently occuppied by leaves-much-to-be-desired officials, but then one must work within and even with this framework for the good and stability of the country.

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