'Support' of US envoy sounds like a warning
TRANSISTOR PRESIDENT: For a while there, we thought retired Gen. Fortunato Abat was not showing up Tuesday night at the Club Filipino in San Juan to declare his own presidency and call on the uniformed service to stop taking commands from the Commander-in-Chief.
Hours before he faced his supporters and the press at the Club before midnight, we were told that the 80-year-old former Army chief and defense secretary was not showing up for the installation of a “transition government” with him as the caretaker president.
You see, word got around that he had forgotten his own call for a coup d’etat of sorts.
At least Abat’s installing himself as the transition president — reminiscent of some kings in the olden days who crowned themselves when the Roman Pope refused to recognize them — provided some levity and a semblance of confirmation of rumors that a coup was in the offing.
Some concerned citizens were hoping that somebody, friend or family, who cared enough for Abat would take the senior citizen home to rest.
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U.S. PRIORITIES: Supporters of President Gloria Arroyo must have felt relieved that the top US diplomat in the country is telling those who care to listen that Washington frowns on any attempt, at this time, to stage a coup d’etat against her administration.
But watch closely the lips of US embassy charge d’affaires Paul Jones.
He seems to be telling the Arroyo administration: Better attend to the American priority agenda in the Philippines — if you do not want naughty elements in the US-subsidized military staging a putsch in tandem with some politicians salivating for power.
The real American message, as I see it, is that Gloria Arroyo must show some tangible results in pushing the US agenda on terrorism, economic reforms, violations of intellectual property rights and the trafficking of humans.
Mr. Jones rattled off these concerns of his government in allaying fears of another coup in the works.
Pardon me, but the natives do not seem to be that hot about combatting terrorism the American way, the piracy of copyrighted materials, and the moving around by people in search of jobs.
As far as I can figure it out, the real issues that matter most to the average Filipino are: (immediate) making sure that they will have a happy Christmas, as well as (on the longer term), a steady job and enough money to ensure the children’s education and provide their basic needs.
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CONTAGIOUS FEARS: For many Filipinos engrossed with the serious business of making a living, terrorism is not something they readily feel would hurt them here and now.
Also, we do not seem to feel strongly enough that the copying of anything burned into a compact disc (CD) or printed on paper is an abominable crime.
And as for the “trafficking of humans,” this is something that happens to other people.
Economic reforms? Will somebody who is not an economist please explain this political mumbo-jumbo?
If you look closely enough, you will note that the urgent items mentioned by Mr. Jones are more important to his government across the ocean than to the average Filipino trying to survive in this benighted land.
Uncle Sam should not pass on to us his country’s problems, nor stampede us into sharing America’s fears and anxieties.
“We are very confident that the political situation here is stable and constructive,” Mr. Jones told the press after a function at a Makati hotel last Monday.
“We certainly oppose any such effort (hypothetical coup),” he added. “But we are quite confident that we’ve got a steady, stable partner here in the Philippines for the very substantive agenda that we share — the war against terrorism, and many other substantive issues that we work on together.”
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DEEP TROUBLE: When soldiers entertain thoughts of breaking the chain of command and going against duly constituted authority, there is something seriously wrong with the military and its leadership.
When unit commanders are no longer able to discipline and hold their men — who, btw, carry government-issued weapons — the allegedly strong Republic is indeed in deep trouble.
I can imagine personnel in the civil service organizing and holding protest assemblies to spice up their lunch break, or even joining street marches outside office hours, but for men in uniform turning their weapons on the very authorities they are sworn to recognize — that is the height of irresponsibility.
If our generals cannot hold and discipline the men, they should all resign instead of hiding their incompetence by way of a coup.
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TERRORISM BILL: President Arroyo’s opposite number in the White House should take a hint from the failure the other day, I think deliberate, of our House of Representatives to pass before the banging of the gavel today for the Christmas recess the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2005.
Lack of quorum derailed the legislative train. Many congressmen, some of whom are certified Malacanang runners, are having second thoughts about passing the bill that would allow arrests without a court warrant and detention of suspects for as long as 15 days without charges.
If such a security measure is that crucial to the fight against terrorism, why does not US President George W. Bush himself certify a similar bill to the US Congress and use his influence, if any, to have it railroaded?
He wants our Gloria to do something that he himself is not ready to do?
Why are we allowing ourselves to be stampeded on an issue that is mainly an overblown concern of a US president continuing to use it as a political prop after exploiting it as a rallying point in his last bid for reelection?
Yes, there is terrorism everywhere, in the same manner that there is sin in this imperfect world, but let us define terrorism in our own terms and tackle it in our own style and in our own time.
As a sovereign nation, we know what to do when our security is threatened.
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MENTAL COLONY: And the winner is… Hong Kong!
Yes, Hong Kong would emerge the winner if First Gentleman Mike Arroyo proceeds with his reported plan to take our athletes — this year’s Southeast Asian Games champions — to the former British colony.
This, after we lauded the fact that, for one golden moment, the Philippines hogged the limelight as host and champion in the recent 23rd Games.
The First Gentleman reportedly wants to treat some 135 athletes to an all-expenses paid Hong Kong Disneyland holiday, where he and President Arroyo recently had a rendezvous for a family reunion.
Don’t we have fun places in our own country where the First Gentleman can proudly treat our young champions? I am certain you will hear a chorus from the operators of local travel and leisure attractions.
One site that comes to mind is Enchanted Kingdom in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, that visitors said can approximate the fun at the HK Disneyland. There are many other top-class holiday resorts waiting for the champions.
A world-class theme park, EK is a member of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions composed of the most reputable theme parks in the world, including Disneyland.
A recent visitor told us that for this year, which happens to be the park’s 10th Magical Year, Enchanted Kingdom has prepared a grand fireworks show — the Spettacolo Pirotecnico or Fireworks of Art. This lights up the sky as lasers, atmospheric effects, sensurround music are presented in majestic fusion on the ground.