Right now, they are reportedly walking along Ayala Avenue, M-16s, uniforms and all, trying to stoke another “People Power” uprising against the Arroyo autocracy…
When I finally got to the office after struggling through the rain-soaked commute from __ Province, I was greeted with the news that there is, as of this moment, another “coup attempt” in progress. Reports are still sketchy–there’s no TV in the office, alas–, but it seems Senator Antonio Trillanes, who is currently being tried for his attempted coup d’etat of 2003, walked out of the hearing, accompanied by Gen. Danilo Lim and their guards, who, according to Lonely Vampire, have switched allegiance to Trillanes’ Magdalo group of soldiers. Right now, they are reportedly walking along Ayala Avenue, M-16s, uniforms and all, having been joined by former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona, trying to stoke another “People Power” uprising against the Arroyo autocracy.
It’s too soon to tell for sure whether they will succeed. In an earlier post (here), I explained why I doubt the success of any attempt at People Power in the current political environment; but I could be dead wrong. Even so, aside from the considerations I wrote about, there are a whole set of factors weighing against Trillanes’ effort: First, their current attempt is not being made at the critical point of a burning political crisis, the payola, ZTE, and “Hello Garci” scandals having already been doused, and the Transco scandal being still in its infancy. Second, they don’t seem to have secured support from, or at least the concurrence of, any of the major political blocs and sectors whose roles were decisive in the last 2 successful uprisings. Third, they’re making the attempt on the eve of a long weekend, and on a rainy day, which factors would keep away the increasingly luxury-bound urban middle class and, as a consequence, the legitimacy-minded military officer class.
On the other hand, given the alleged rapproachment between the military reformists and the Left, Senator Trillanes’ effort could conceivably gain the support of the social and national democratic movements. These could then form the nucleus of larger protest movement that could finally reach the elusive critical mass needed to oust the Arroyo autocracy, give the utter lack of credibility the autocrat has in current public opinion. Also, the reported entry of Senator Guingona could presage a higher involvement by the the urban intelligentsia and, perhaps more importantly, a raising of his status to primus inter pares in the headless political opposition, which could finally give the Filipino people an alternative leader around whom to coalesce.
More anon when more is known; but for now, as soon as I finish my most urgent tasks here, I have half a mind to go to Makati to join the protest…
UPDATES–1942 and 2150H, Manila Time:
It seems the People Power attempt of Senator Trillanes has capsized as usual, and that he’s on his way to the Bicutan stockade under the watchful eyes of the Philippine authorities, who have also taken steps to prevent further “destabilization”. (Some parts of the stockade, by the way, are relatively easy to escape from, judging by how it looked the last time I went there.) The tollways north and south of Manila are now under guard, and a comprehensive curfew has been imposed, to take effect from 12 midnight to 5 am.
“Is this Martial Law II?” asked my friend S_. To be honest, I’m not sure, but I think it unlikely, and that the autocracy is imposing the measure solely to prevent a renewed buildup of protest. The same goes for the arrest of journalists that accompanied the surrender of Trillanes et al. As noted in Postcard Headlines (read the post, as it gives an excellent assessment of the event), this implicated press freedom; but this was probably an oversight, or at most, an attempt to silence the press long enough to reconsolidate control.
By the way, Senator Trillanes could probably give lessons on How to Botch a Coup 101. Philippines Without Borders (which I discovered through Postcard Headlines) says it best:
It was so stupid of them to initiate a “coup” in the first place. You want a coup and you launch it in a hotel?! My goodness! Such incompetent fools!
First, you don’t launch a “revolution” on a rainy day. Edsa I and II were done on a clear sunny day. And you don’t launch it on a five star hotel.
You want a real revolution? Learn from the lessons of Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Joseph Broz Tito, Garibaldi, and Michael Collins. These guys launched it in the real battlefield; not in five star hotels. Mao said a revolution is no picnic and he succeeded.
But Trillanes and Lim would rather have their revolution in the comfort of a hotel. And when they started to feel the discomfort of a tear gas, they chickened out. Funny guys!
So GMA endures another challenge. I can only pray that this victory will not lead to further repression…