Saturday, January 19, 2008

Coup Holidays

The government’s security agencies, for the umpteenth time, uncovered plot to destabilize the government. This time, they say, the plotters plan to use the Anniversary of Edsa II (Jan 20) and the Mendiola Massacre (Jan 22).

This recent news is just one in a long line of attempts and alleged attempts against President Arroyo since she took power in 2001. Many of these tidings of doom have come on or before special days like Labor Day, Edsa Anniversaries; and most recently Bonifacio Day.

I know Filipinos love holidays. We have a Christmas season that is longer than anywhere else. In the barrios we feed neighbors and sometimes even strangers at fiestas. But what does it say of us as a people when we stain days often given in honor of heroes and events widely respected with the filth of conspiracy?

The most plausible reason I have hear so far is purely organizational in nature. Holidays, often those with a revolutionary nature, are often non-working and is celebrated with rallies. This removes the problem of trying to communicate with a large number of people and be found out when knowledge of the day alone would bring them out.

People on the streets drawn mostly by the call of the occasion plus a hundred or soldiers; add to that, a charismatic politician, maybe just maybe, you can squeeze in a victory.

Government may belittle negative approval surveys but every time the calendar falls on a special day, they hold their breath. They release tales of doom, destabilization, an impending junta; and so on. It is indirectly an admission that they have not done their job. A strange mindset if you think about it for someone, a government, who has done their job well, and a people contented with how things are run.

It is stranger still if you think about it that government would tip their hand in reporting rumors of a plot to destabilize the government. Maybe it helps a little that if the ‘plotters’ know they have been found out they’d be too paranoid to mount an effective strike. But still wouldn’t it be better let it all play out, gather evidence; make arrests, and only then talk to the people, when they have a plotter secure in custody.

I wonder are the plots even real?

This dance is getting tiresome because we do it almost every year. But why oh why do it over and over again?

Sun Tzu wrote in his the Art of War that, “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.”

Apparently the Chinese general is not popular reading with our learned politicians, not even our military.

Former Navy man and now Senator Antonio Trillanes IV certainly hasn’t read Sun Tzu. It baffles me to no end on why he would think he stood a better chance last November 29 when he had less men and arms than in the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny.

Maybe he thought that he was Aragorn in Return of the King and that staging an attempt on the day before Bonifacio Day; the Katipunero leader would rise and lead an army of the dead and give him the President’s head. If he thought that then I feel ashamed for the Navy that made him an officer.

No arms, men, support; means of escape and more importantly no element of surprise. Why did Trillanes do that? Why do plots even confine themselves on so few dates? Has no one considered Christmas, Holy Week; maybe the first day of school? Why does government continue to tip their hand and say a plot has been uncovered?

The answer on either side is to use the people. Sow fear, hatred; get sympathy, submission or loyalty. Keep them at bay.

Where the hell are we going as a nation when we relive this scary story of violence over and over again.

There is one special day, however, that I would like to remember: birthdays. Because unlike any other day like Christmas, Valentine’s day, or Edsa Revolution, it is on our birthdays that people will strive to give us one important thing: surprise.

To the leaders and the plotters please; surprise me. For that matter, shouldn't we as a nation, surprise ourselves.

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