POSTSCRIPT / February 19, 2015 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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Assuming Noy quits, what happens next?

NO MASTER PLAN: Assuming President Noynoy Aquino resigns or is putsch-ed aside, which I doubt will happen soon, what will the milling crowd do in the ensuing confusion?

What do we do with 100 million innocent Filipinos caught in the political crossfire? I suspect even the coup plotters themselves, or those hankering for a fast-tracked transformation, do not know.

Let us see first a well thought-out Post-Aquino Master Plan before we entertain thoughts of joining the quick-change artists. That plan is one big mass of crucial matter missing in all this plotting and maneuvering.

We do not just chop off a head and worry later about saving the rest of the body, if we still can.

* * *

RELY ON CONSTITUTION: I doubt the coup or ouster plotters have planned this through in detail.

If they have, it might be best that they share the plan with us the people. That way, more of us might be more inclined to share their enthusiasm.

Actually, if they have forgotten, there is already a Master Plan — the Constitution.

Under the charter, which we the sovereign people ratified in 1987, the orderly change of leadership comes with the regular elections like the seasons.

The next presidential election is already set in May 2016. After almost five years of the Aquino administration, can we not wait 15 more months and spare ourselves the stress of a “de golpe”changeover?

* * *

SUCCESSION: The same Constitution provides for an orderly by-the-rules succession in case the President resigns as some of his detractors demand he does.

Going by the constitutional succession, the elected Vice President, Jojo Binay, becomes president, whether Trillanes types like him or not.

If for some reason and by some maneuver Binay’s detractors block his succession, Senate President Frank Drilon takes over, et cetera, all the way down to Speaker Sonny Belmonte, period.

The time-tested process is designed to be very orderly whenever a vacancy in the presidency occurs. Everybody knows this, but under the circumstances it bears repeating.

Let us give the Constitution a chance.

* * *

WRONG VOICE: The above line reminds me of one of President Aquino’s negotiators with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is demanding to be given its own Bangsamoro for it to end its part in the bloody strife in Mindanao.

“Give peace a chance,” Secretary Ging Deles, presidential peace adviser, was quoted as saying in one of the columns I have seen.

Some of the MILF’s defenders in the Aquino administration talk as if peace does not have a chance unless we yield to the secessionists’ bullying.

Deles et al. would have helped the cause if only they saw to it that they first laid the basis by, among other protocols, making sure they were negotiating with the legitimate representative of the wider community of peace-loving Muslims.

Let us face it: the 7,000-strong MILF does not speak for or is authorized to commit the Muslim population now estimated to number some nine million.

It might be pointless to “give peace (with the MILF) a chance”. Even before the ink dries on a newly signed pact, another splinter group can be expected to start shooting its way onto center stage to grab attention and its own piece of the so-called peace.

* * *

TWO-WAY STREET: Little by little, the role of the United States in Mamasapano is coming to light in the inquiries, albeit behind closed doors.

The serving of the warrant on Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, in his hideout near the MILF camp is a local police operation, but count me among those who say it is all right for the US to help in security and related domestic matters.

A loner cannot survive in this continually shrinking interdependent global village. If we are to survive at all, it might as well be with the help of friends.

As I told a forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, at the start of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, foreign relations is a two-way street shared by friends. It is not one-way, because the US also uses the Philippines.

I was reacting to a critical comment from the audience that the Philippines invariably joined a show of flags when the US got embattled in a foreign land — because the Manila government allegedly was getting something in return.

* * *

MUTUALITY: At that time the US was hard put to rationalize, even among its allies, its attack on Iraq, a fellow sovereign state and co-member of the United Nations.

It could not use as excuse the 9/11 attacks because none of the suspects in the horrifying violence that killed 2,977 was an Iraqi. The White House then invented the line that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction for use against Americans.

To go back to American involvement in Mamasapano and the overall anti-terrorism campaign in Mindanao, my position is that such operations are allowable – at times even desirable — if done with prior full knowledge and consent of the host government.

If we have to sign agreements based on reciprocity, mutual respect and benefit, then let us enter into such contracts provided constitutional requirements are satisfied.

It has been bruited about that no Filipino becomes and stays as president of this republic without the say-so of Uncle Sam. I am inclined to believe that although I cannot prove it.

In this hullabaloo over supposed coup plots and transformation something, they better be purely Filipino undertakings. If we Filipinos have to tangle with one another, it has to be just us. Thank you.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 19, 2015)

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