Sunday, September 04, 2005

Naivet‚ or hypocrisy?

by Sec. Rigoberto D. Tiglao

There has been a display of naivetè (some call it hypocrisy)-contrived or not-by the so-called Black and White Movement, over the political war that has raged in the past three months. The people behind the movement portray their stance merely as a search for truth.

But the election-fraud charges, which led to the drive for President Macapagal-Arroyo to resign and-after that failed-for her impeachment, didn't evolve just out of the blue. The core of the campaign to unseat the President (the so-called "Garci" tapes) didn't surface on its own. The jueteng witnesses (all admitted bagmen[woman] of gambling lords) didn't get conscience-stricken just suddenly in June, the reason they turned whistle-blowers. This mix of "exposès" and people is a major element of a political strategy.

The metaphor of a political storm is a bit misleading. The turmoil in the past months represents the big offensive initiated by three major political forces determined to unseat President Macapagal-Arroyo at all costs. The turmoil is not just the result of a confluence of factors and events. These camps have been ranged against her since Day One of her first term, continuously plotting to overwhelm the administration's democratic ramparts.

1. The Erap (deposed President Joseph Estrada) and FPJ (Fernando Poe Jr.) forces. They cannot accept the fact that a once popular president is in detention while the court deliberates on the corruption allegations against him. Indeed, for the first time in our nation's history, a former president has been put in jail. This unprecedented development-a quantum leap toward the strengthening of our institutions-has not been without cost. It is a major factor that explains the continuous political turbulence since 2001.

FPJ in the 2004 elections was their big hope to free Erap. They failed, and so they proceeded to implement their Plan B: discredit the elections and, they hope, in the resulting public outrage, pressure the President to resign. Who was the main disseminator of the alleged "Garci" tapes? Alan Paguia, Erap's lawyer.

2. The Communist Party and its front organizations. The Leninist-Maoist dogma calls for a two-pronged political strategy to capture power. First (the Leninist contribution) is to undertake moves to worsen the political situation, and especially "to split the ruling class." The strategy, which Lenin proved effective in Russia in 1917, is to create political chaos, allowing a well-organized party to easily capture power, with the middle forces acquiescing in fear or in the spirit of political opportunism.

Second (the Maoist contribution) is the so-called "mass line": Assume leadership of all anti-establishment causes in order to expand your organization and forge alliances with other political forces.

What has particularly incensed the Communist Party has been its belief that the President worked for its classification by the US government as a terrorist organization. This has reportedly wreaked havoc on the party's international network for fund-raising and transfers.

Jose Ma. Sison's strategy of a rural-based rebel army, combined with "parliamentary struggle," certainly has borne fruit. For the first time in any modern nation's history, Marxist-Leninist cadres are able to hurl vitriol against a democratically elected President, demanding her ouster in the halls of Congress.

3. Sen. Panfilo Lacson's forces. Having left Estrada's shadow and having grown out of his former role as Erap's chief enforcer, Lacson has emerged as a political leader in his own right, drawing Erap's ronins into his camp. At least, unlike the civil socialites hypocritically claiming they are only after the truth, Lacson never kept secret his desire or goal to have Ms Arroyo overthrown. As regular as the seasons, Lacson has continuously launched intense political blitzkriegs to crush the President's credibility with the end-view of unseating her.

The disclosure that Lacson had asked an Australian outfit to authenticate a three-hour tape before its existence was alleged by an ex-NBI officer bolsters suspicions that the "Garci" tapes were his project.

Other smaller forces have wanted to unseat Ms Arroyo since 2001; they are lesser predators like hyenas trailing the main pack: the remnants of the Marcos dynasty intent on preserving the wealth it amassed over 20 years; elderly, long-retired generals hallucinating over the Latin American, vintage-1960s juntas; and breakaway groups from the Sison-controlled Communist Party.

Look closely at the main features of the current political battle. What made the current campaign politically possible? The "Garci" tapes could have been acquired-and digitally manipulated-only by someone with an extensive intelligence background. What constitutes the main force of the impeachment camp in Congress? The leftist party-list representatives (10 of them) and prominent figures of the Erap camp, such as his former executive secretary Rep. Ronaldo Zamora. What is the main force in the street rallies, which are held with all agit-prop gimmicks? The Communist Party cadres and activists.

Miscalculating that the political war waged by these veteran forces was moving toward victory, a sector of civil society joined the fray. On July 8, hypocritically claiming it merely wanted to spare the President from further pain, its members carried out a blitz of press conferences to pressure her to resign. They thought the move would give them the leadership of the anti-GMA forces.

In this conflict, political clerics, civil socialites and greenhorn congressmen have pretended, or naively thought themselves, to be noncombatants out only in a spiritual search for truth.

He who rides the tiger cannot dismount, lest he be devoured, an old Chinese proverb says.

The three forces-Erap's, the Communist Party's and Lacson's-are the three tigers in the Philippine political jungle, out to devour the President. On Friday evening at La Salle Greenhills, it became obvious that former President Aquino, Dinky Soliman et al., some clerics and civil socialites have, wittingly or unwittingly, mounted these tigers.

Their group's name, Black and White Movement, fits them to a tee. They have chosen to be politically color-blind, and thus unable to discern the predators in the political jungle.

They will find it difficult to dismount. We hope that on the backs of these tigers, they will not be witnesses to the devouring of our democracy.