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The Role Of WAR In Preserving POWER

February 2, 2008

The war is not meant to be won, but it is meant to be continuous.’ (George Orwell, 1984)

Seven years after she came to power via people’s revolt in 2001, Ms Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo again vowed to wipe out insurgency in the Philippines. This time, she put more emphasis on the word “war” and even highlighted her renewed determination to eradicate the left.

It’s all systems go for Arroyo’s anti-left project. By now, people should start calling her the “War President” for reviving a government-backed anti-left purges that ended over a decade ago.

After the fall of late strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos, the 1987 Constitution ratified under the term of the revolutionary government of Pres. Corazon Aquino encouraged the left and other minority groups to fight for their political causes in Congress. The multi-party system introduced by the new charter aims to make the Congress the venue for Left’s and other minority groups’ parliamentary struggle. This resulted in the election of several party-list groups, which include leftist organizations Bayan Muna, Akbayan and Anakpawis, to the House of Representatives.

During the time of former President Fidel V. Ramos, an amnesty was signed into law encouraging the rebels and their families to return to civilian life.

But Ms Arroyo, disregarding all the efforts of her predecessors in establishing a nation where both the left and government leaders would work together to achieve a harmonized government, declared an all-out war not only on insurgency but also on various marginalized and minority groups like peasants, media, churchmen and other entities inimical to the interest of the current regime. As a matter of fact, the military allegedly released a report entitled “Know Thy Enemy”, which enumerates the so-called “enemies of the State.”

But who are the “enemies of the state”? There are four classifications of the so-called enemies of the state. First, those tagged by the United States of America as international terrorist groups, which include the CPP-NPA. Second, those classified as such by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Third, those mentioned in the occasional speeches of the President and her authorized agents or those who come under official pronouncements as enemies of the state, “destabilizers”, terrorist groups, etc. Fourth, those defined by the Anti-terrorism Act.

Ms Arroyo’s declaration of war did not come as a surprise. In an Inquirer report, it was revealed that the Malacañang Palace had planned to “neutralize the left” as soon as President Arroyo came to power. Two of the main goals of the paper is the “implementation of special intelligence operations to neutralize party members” and “a massive and well-coordinated mass-based psychological operation directed against mass movements and organizations supporting the CPP_NPA.”

According to the report, the paper titled “The Bayan Muna Party-list Victory and the Prospect of its Wider National and Local Participation” appears to have been made “after Bayan Muna topped the party-list election in May 2001 and before the barangay elections in July 2002 that were later canceled.”

National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, however, did not deny the existence of said military paper. He said: “It was a proposal. I believe it was never acted upon.”

But the fact that there was such a proposal, whether or not it was acted upon, shows the intent of the government to revive its anti-left pogrom, this time in a more comprehensive, intense and far-reaching military campaign. It does not only include the traditional state enemies but also those who might be tagged by the regime by virtue of Anti-terrorism Act.

To further analyze the Philippines’ anti-insurgency and anti-enemies of the state operations, it is important to consider the following international and socio-political events and occurrences that transpired after the millennium. These are the following:

First, the US-led war on terrorism after the World Trade Center Bombing. This resulted in the inclusion of the CPP-NPA in the list the terrorist groups in the world.

Second, the widening influence and broadening power of some party-list groups associated with the left in the House of Representatives. That’s why according to the confidential and secretive military paper, “It is thus imperative that total government approach and decisive political measures be implemented to dwarf the seeming expansion of BM in different areas of the country. How the government will maneuver on this will certainly contribute to the continuity of the present administration.” If this secretive operation using public resources, manpower and intelligence funded by the government were really sanctioned by the Arroyo administration, then it must be condemned as against the spirit of the Constitution. The party-list system is in fact one of the ends of the multi-party system being endorsed by the Constitution itself.

Third, of course, the infamous “Hello, Garci controversy” that continuously rocks the President.

The international war on terror is one of the political overtones that justifies Arroyo’s local version of terrorism. Ms Arroyo is in fact adopting the concept of center-and-periphery in justifying her own war at home. In fact, George Bush even praised her several times doing the same thing in the Philippines. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton even showered her with praises in an international convention abroad.

After the 2004 Presidential election, a tape dubbed as “Hello, Garci” which purportedly contains unofficial and deceitful conversation between a woman whose voice sounds very similar to the President’s and a man whose voice was believed to be that of disgraced former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano. Said grandmother of all tapes reveals a systematic and bureaucratic plan to rig the ballots, as the woman in the tape asked, “Will I win by one million votes?” And the man obediently replied, “Yes, ma’am, pipilitin po… (we’ll force it)”

The “unofficial conversation” was the focus of attention of all local media and even the subject of text jokes. In fact, it nearly toppled Ms Arroyo by July of 2005, however, before the President gave in, Ramos came to her rescue and asked the people to give her a second chance. Perhaps, Ramos was really expecting that under the term of Ms Arroyo, his “chacha” (charter change) dream would finally be realized. Now that remains a dream especially now that House Speaker Jose De Venecia and Ms Arroyo has some sort of cold war after the ZTE Deal was cracked by the son of the former.

Now, over 800 people associated with the left, churchmen, mediamen, and even ordinary people critical of the Arroyo government died during the term of Ms Arroyo, according to Karapatan. This does not include several cases of enforced disappearances.

The Supreme Court, in an action to counter this most condemnable kind of injustice and disrespect for human life, introduced the writ of amparo in the country. The highest court observed that the existence of the writ of habeas corpus is not enough to protect the most important life of a human being– the right to life. With this new development in the country’s justice system, the writ of amparo will bar military officers in judicial proceedings to issue denial answers regarding petitions on disappearances or extrajudicial executions, which were legally permitted in Habeas corpus proceedings.

It appears that the reason behind Gloria’s War is to deviate the attention of the people from their focus on the Hello, Garci controversy. Thus, its sum and total is really to preserve power.

This is in line with that Orwellian concept that “War is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous,” because its ends is to make the Philippine society intact.

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