A time of perilous uncertainty

By Ellen Tordesillas
Ang Pahayagang Malaya

DESTABILIZATION talks are getting louder and louder as Gloria Arroyo and her henchmen make the final push to keep her in power beyond 2010.

Last Tuesday at the 58th anniversary of the Scout Rangers at Camp Tecson in Bulacan, AFP chief Alexander Yano assured the public that the military won’t be involved in any destabilization plots.

It’s significant that Yano’s audience was the elite Scout Rangers, whose much-respected commander, Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and 19 other officers, were implicated in the alleged plan to withdraw support from Gloria Arroyo following in February 2006 following the surfacing of the "Hello Garci " tapes that validated Arroyo’s primary role the tampering of election results in her favor.

Lim and the 19 Scout Rangers that include Colonels Nestor Flordeliza and Edmundo Malabanjot and Major Jason Aquino have been in detention together with nine Marine officers and one Army Special Forces officer for almost three years now.

Yano told the Scout Rangers: "With being one of the most admired soldiers in the organization come the expectation that you will not abuse your skill and unique place in the Armed Forces. Because your peers look up to you, you have the responsibility to shield the military institution from forces and interests that wish to divide us for we are only as strong as we want to be. When we break the chain of command, then the armor of strength that shields the institution is also damaged."

He said not much has changed in the mission of the FSRR since its foundation by Rafael Ileto: To obey their constitutional mandate to protect the people, the sovereignty of the state and integrity of the national territory.

This is a good reminder to the uniformed personnel at this time when Arroyo’s fake presidency is in a very precarious state and she is expected to do everything to remain in power to protect herself from the wrath of the people.

Yano should not worry about the patriotic officers, who are clear about their constitutional role of "protector of the people." They were not the ones who allowed themselves to be used in thwarting the will of the people in the 2004 election.

If there’s any lesson gained in the February 2006 and the November 29, 2008 incidents, it is that despite the fact that Arroyo is the most disliked MalacaƱang occupant in the post-Marcos era, civilians need to get their act together to put their outrage into effective change.

When the people are able to muster courage to stand up to put a stop to Arroyo’s thievery and trampling of the Constitution, these enlightened officers will do their duty to protect the people.

What about Yano?

A few months ago, former Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz warned of the danger that Arroyo would impose martial law or emergency rule if she can’t push through with charter change to extend her hold on power.

Cruz said this would not be new to Arroyo who had planned to impose emergency rule in December 2005 which prompted US President George W. Bush to send John Negroponte, then US Director for National Intelligence (he is now deputy secretary of state) to Manila to personally warn Arroyo against pushing through with her plan.

Cruz said he believes that Yano won’t agree for the military to be used for the imposition of an authoritarian rule.

The past months, military intelligence agents have been reporting about having monitored recruitment for a major undertaking. When those who have been approached asked for whose group, the answer was vague: "Sa nakakarami" (for the majority).

It is not far-fetched that hardliners among in the Arroyo cabinet – Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza, Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane and the new addition, Peace Adviser Hermogenes Esperon – would try to pre-empt any attempt to oust Arroyo because their own privileged positions are also at stake.

Sources said there’s also a group, identified with former President Ramos which is also moving.

These are uncertain times and I imagine even Yano is being watched closely.

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