Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Parrot and stick

Remember these lines: “You are not a Filipino if you are against the peace and progress being offered by the Balikatan* 2002. You are not a Filipino if you are against the help being offered by a friend. You are either for or against democracy, freedom and prosperity. There can be no bystanders”?

In an old op-ed commentary of mine (“A lover’s delight,” INQ7.net, Feb. 11, 2002), I’ve reacted to the above by saying “This is sounding more like a playact between a child and an adult, with the former gladly parroting the latter. As a parrot, GMA is attempting to solve the Mindanao conflict from the standpoint of subservience and myopia. This shameless repeat-after-George W. [“if you are not with us, you are against us”] stance is truly deplorable.”

The footnote (in my book) to the commentary even points out that “The embarrassing . . . parroting has continued after the [waging of] Gulf War II, the GMA government this time employing such overused words as ‘embedded’ or ‘selective’ as in ‘embedded terrorist cells’ or ‘selective targets’ in the renewed Mindanao bombings. And when Indonesian terrorist, Al-Ghozi, was slain by the PNP, the cadaver was allowed to be publicly exhibited by the GMA government the way the mangled bodies of Saddam Hussein’s two sons, Odai and Qusai, were displayed to the American public as a tonic for a faltering US campaign in Iraq.”

During the months immediately preceding the May 2004 presidential elections in the Philippines, one Aziz Choudry took note of the similarities between George W. Bush and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and found them as “both surreal and striking.” Choudry explained:
Born only nine months apart, Bush and Arroyo are children of former presidents. . . George and Gloria came to power not through winning elections, but on the basis of Supreme Court decisions in their respective countries. Both were sworn in to the presidency on January 20, 2001. . .

Both Bush and Arroyo hope to stay in power past the 2004 elections. Both have made the “war on terror” and free market capitalism their central concerns. She claims that her market reforms and the nation’s security are at risk in the election. So does he. He used the capture of Saddam to halt his falling popularity, albeit temporarily. She has tried, unsuccessfully, to use the domestic “war on terror” to bolster her flagging ratings.
The supposedly second mandate for both presidents has been marred by serious allegations of rigging. Now, fast forward 2006. Bush’s approval rating at an all-time low of 31 percent in May has seen a post-Zarquawi bounce to 38% and an additional $71 billion funding from Congress as Bush, in an uncharacteristic scheme, sneaked to Baghdad for a full-court press on America’s doddering operations in Iraq. Arroyo, still the most unpopular president the country has ever had, apparently saw that even when losing ground a hard-hitting or bunker-busting policy against terrorists works. But there are no Al Qaedas roaming in the streets of Manila and suburbs, not even the homespun Abu Sayyaf. Who will absorb the parrot and stick? The Left.

As Arroyo dumbly equates the Left with terrorists, INQ7.net banners this headline: “Gov’t going full blast with NPA rebels.” Armed with a one-billion peso funding commitment to AFP and PNP for the eradication of the four-decade old communist insurgency, the little sister is zestfully marching behind the big brother again to crush their imagined foes in another aberrant but deadly playacting.

But the scripts don’t seem to fit according to Randy David: “Not all leftists advocate the violent overthrow of the State, and not all armed groups are leftist. To be Left is to think and speak radically about social problems; to be an armed rebel is to participate in the forcible overthrow of government. Our Constitution outlaws armed rebellion, but it resolutely protects freedom of thought and of speech.”

Surely, there are brutal terrorists causing untold sufferings among innocent civilians in Iraq but there are also patriotic nationalists among Iraqis who are fighting to end the “illegal” occupation of their country. Yet, today everyone fighting the US in Iraq is a “terrorist” just as any critic - whether journalists, farmers, students, priests, activists and the like - of the Arroyo regime is leftist. Indeed, “both striking and surreal” are the similarities.

There’s one explanation. “But let’s not forget,” mlq3 warns, “that [President Arroyo] relies on the media planning and political advice of the same people who advise the Republicans in the United States.” That makes sense.

*Joint US-RP military exercises.


Blogger manuelbuencamino said...

Here's another wierd similarity.

Bush asks for a constitutional amendment against same sex marriage so he has a diversion in the coming midterm elections.

Gloria's lawyer, Makalintal, tells Filipino gays to work for the amendment of the party list law to include them. This just weeks before the filling of the new impeachment.

Why are both presidents using gays as a diversion?
The focus on gays came within weeks of each other.

June 22, 2006 5:28 AM  
Blogger HILLBLOGGER & Hillblogger Jr said...

Hi Abe,

I'm a militarist and but also a pragmatist. The events that led to Gloria's ascent cannot be turned back.

Ultimately, the success of Gloria and 'civil society' in toppling a duly constitutionally mandated government of the republic hinged on the abject failure of the military to perform its sworn duty.

If at all, we like to raise the never-ending issues about the events of 2001 to keep a record of those events and in due course, for history to judtge Gloria. Thus, I agree with your tenet here:

"Filipinos ought to laud his second quixotic charge if only for the rare historic opportunity thus offered for the Supreme Court to reverse itself in favor of People Power. But whichever way the SC would have gone, (3) the result of the May 2001 elections should be seen as the better test of People Power II."

July 08, 2006 5:50 AM  

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