Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Power Crisis in the Philippines

Our country is encountering a power crisis, not just because our dams are starting to dry up, but the elites and the counter-elites of this tiny Republic are maneuvering for power. Again, a struggle for dominance is in the offing, participated by Big Business, military and political elites.

And the group who will be more trusting than the other will lose this power struggle.

The simmering heat brought by this struggle is confined in the halls of the palace and in some hotel room somewhere in Manila and in Hongkong. And like what happens to things either artificially or naturally heated, it will cause boils and will eventually burst at the seams.

Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has promised before magistrates and foreign governments that she will keep her word and allow this elections to push thru. And she did. Arroyo signed the papers allowing the automation of this elections and Smartmatic-TIM already delivered their end of the bargain. More than 80,000 optimal reading machines were delivered, albeit, late for a few weeks. Nonetheless, they delivered.

Arroyo herself went to the poll body and filed her COC, another indication that she meant well. Arroyo ordered the military and the police to go after armed groups and even asked the DOJ to file murder charges against her foremost supporter in Mindanao. For the past few weeks, Arroyo did everything in her power to compromise, even at the point of weakening her hold on to political power.

What her detractors worry, and this is not a simple matter, is Mrs. Arroyo continues to show contempt against calls for her not to appoint a new AFP chief and a New Supreme Court justice. Groups did their jobs, using the media to communicate their opposition to Arroyo and even went as far as daring her to exercise delicadeza.

As what Singaporeans say, no can do.

Mrs. Arroyo appointed Lt. General Delfin Bangit as head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Bangit, as we all know, is a very close associate of Mrs. Arroyo. He served Arroyo well as the country's head of the PSG and the intelligence service of the military. His phenomenal rise to power is a classic case in the military promotional system.

Bangit's promotion affected Generals Rodolfo Maclang and Vice admiral Virgilio Marayag's, as well as Lt. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) commander, Navy Chief Vice Admiral Ferdinand Golez and Vice Admiral Leonardo Calderon, PMA Superintendent, are members of PMA class 76, two years Bangit’s senior.

Aside from PMA Class 76, Bangit also bypassed a number of senior officers belonging to PMA Class 77.

It is expected that Mrs. Arroyo will also turn down calls for her not to appoint the replacement of Chief Justice Reynato Puno. Seemed that Mrs. Arroyo will appoint Justice Corona, her former Chief of Staff when she was still vice president, to the top SC post.

Really, its expected for someone like Mrs. Arroyo to secure both posts due to their sensitivity.

If you control the law and the armed forces, you practically control the entire State. Which, to my mind, is something very natural for a President to do.

What is so disturbing and so unnatural to all of these is simply the timing. The President will be leaving her post of 9 years in May 2010. There is this thing called "integrity" of the elections.

Bangit is a highly decorated and professional officer and he deserves it. Same goes to other members of PMA class 1978.

Yet, many believe that their quick ascension to power was actually brought by political patronage rather than professional accomplishments.

How will this administration confidently say before the public that they are pushing for clean elections when the very enforcer of the law once was accused of complicity in electoral fraud? You really don't appoint someone with a highly doubtful character to hold a very sensitive post at this transitional juncture in the nation's history. Everybody knows that the success or failure of this electoral exercise will either make or break the entire Republic. Everyone knows how the public feels about this elections, that more than 76% of the People will militate against their government if this elections fail especially in the credibility department.

It would have been better if Mrs. Arroyo extended Ibrado's and Puno's terms and just allow the next president to appoint people who enjoy his confidence.

Will Ibrado render the same loyalty to the next president? And will Corona be as impartial as his predecessor when it comes to graft cases filed against the Arroyos shortly after this administration?

Can it be that this administration knows that this elections will fail and it wants to maintain a hold of power in the event of an uprising due to a tainted and dishonest polls?

Or, as some say, this maneuverings were meant to assure the poll victory of the administration bet who remains to be very loyal to the sitting one?

It seemed that this administration is preparing for a hold-over capacity, given the very high probability of a non-proclamation of winners in the national posts.

A very high government official told a group of importers and businessmen that the prospect of a "no-proc" remains since these machines are vulnerable either to software red hat attacks or physical sabotage.

In a "no-proc" scenario, it may very well lead to a " power vacuum", which, as Enrile says, can only be resolved by the intervention of military elites. A military elite who favors a hold over of power by the Arroyo administration is the end of all these which will definitely be opposed by counter-elites and the People. Obviously, this counters what the US wants in the Philippines, since it is clearly the policy of the Obama administration to ensure a clean, honest and non-violent elections.