The author is the Political and Foreign Affairs Specialist of Action for Economic Reforms.
I had a strange experience while watching television the other night. I
was watching a football game between InterMilan and Galatasaray when
the now familiar CNN Breaking News image flashed on the TV screen.
I immediately reached for the remote, wondering whether one of my
children was playing a joke and switched channels on me. But I was
still on ESPN. I switched channels, but all the channels carried the
CNN Breaking News image.
Maria Ressa appeared live on screen and was reporting,
” I am standing outside Camp Aguinaldo, and there is something
mysterious going on there. The camp’s gates have been shut and there
are reports of shooting inside.”
Another reporter came onscreen and said “I am here in Malacanang, and
they do not know what is going on either. They are receiving reports
from all over the country that similar incidents are happening in other
camps but there are no troops moving in or out of the camps.”
The CNN anchor asks Maria “So, Maria, is there a coup going on?”
” That is the whole mystery to these incidents. There is fierce
fighting going on inside some camps but there are no troop movements
anywhere,” replies Maria.
A few hours later, a young soldier accompanied by a senior officer
emerges from the camp, approaches Maria and invites her inside Camp
Aguinaldo for an exclusive briefing.
Flanked by fellow officers, he reads from a prepared statement.
” We, the officers and men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, ask
our countrymen to remain calm. We are not launching a coup. We are
simply in the process of reforming our organization. We are taking
action against the scoundrels and scalawags in our ranks. There will be
courts martial, and those found guilty will be punished in accordance
with our military code. We continue to support and uphold the
Constitution and the supremacy of civilian rule. This is an internal
matter. We ask the public not to interfere or to take sides. We ask the
politicians to stay out of this. This will be over soon. Justice will
” We are ready for your questions”
Maria: “This is a mutiny then?”
Spokesman: “It is a self-cleaning operation”
Maria: “What are you going to do next? Are you going to clean up the rest of the government?”
Spokesman: “We belong to the Armed Forces. Our job is to protect the
Filipino people from external and internal threat. This is our duty and
we are bound to do this to the best of our ability as individuals and
as members of an organization. This is why we are cleaning our ranks.
We will not meddle with the civilian government. We are not Messiahs
nor do we think we should be in the business of government. Those of us
who feel that they have something positive to contribute in civilian
rule will resign and run for office in the next elections.”
Maria: “We are witnessing a new phenomenon here. Why are you not following the classic coup model?”
Spokesman: ” The classic approach espoused by Honasan and his clones
was flawed. First of all, their priorities were wrong. If they wanted
reform, they should have started with the armed forces and set an
example. You can reform the armed forces without taking over the entire
government and ruling with a junta. Secondly, there are sound reasons
for the division of labor, if you will, in our government. We have been
trained for defense and our orientation as well as training is not
suited for the wheeling and dealing, the compromises, the grandstanding
and the debates attendant to political life. All that is the arena of
politicians. In the same manner that we are not suited for politics, we
do not think that politicians are qualified to assume positions of
command within our organization. General Vicente Lim and General Rocky
Ileto are our examples rather than Honasan and his misguided ilk”
Maria: “What if your reforms are successful but corruption and
mismanagement continue unabated in the civilian government? Will you
take action then?”
Spokesman: “We have faith in our people. If the civilian government
does not reform then as you have seen in the case of Marcos and Erap,
the people will do what is right.”
Spokesman: “Thank you.”
Alas, I woke up and realized it was all a dream. We have a long way to
go. It will take while before our entire military re-learns the
supremacy of civilian authority.
But I can dream, can’t I?