Thursday, February 23, 2006
State of Emergency declared in the Philippines
The Philippine President has just declared a State of Emergency as Proclamation 1017 and says she'll crack down on any opposition. Unnamed persons are being arrested. A specific warning has gone out to former President Cory Aquino not to proceed with a rally in the Makati Business district which already has a permit. For updates see:
Gloria Arroyo is apparently accusing a brigadier general in the "special action force", a man connected with the Philippine Scout Rangers and possibly a USMA graduate named Danilo Lim of being the mastermind. Danilo Lim is under some kind of nebulous arrest as of this writing, in the personal custody (whatever that means) of Philippine Armed Forces Chief of Staff Generoso Senga. There are rumors that another coup leader is still at large, an unnamed officer in the Philippine Marines.
The Scout Rangers and the Philippine Marines represent the elite of the Philippine military.
There are several political groups which oppose Philippine President Arroyo but who do not particularly like each other. They had scheduled separate mass demonstrations today, on the occasion of the anniversary of the People's Power revolution of 1986. One group, led by the leftists were scheduled to assemble in Quezon City while the other, a group led by businessmen and associated with former President Aquino, were slated to meet in the business capital of Makati.
Macapagal vowed to prevent the demonstration in Makati which was to have been attended by former President Aquino and possibly former President Fidel Ramos. At this writing the Makati demonstrations, while not large, were proceeding in despite of pressure to disperse. The leftist rally in Quezon City apparently became a running street battle, but no firearms appear to have been involved, simply rocks, gas bombs and instruments of that nature.
The situation has revealed some of the weaknesses on both sides. A source suggested to me that the absence of any arrests of plotters other than Danilo Lim, who is described as being in the 'personal custody' of the Chief of Staff indicates that the Philippine Army is hesitatant to move decisively; that it is still sitting on the fence. On the other hand, Corazon Aquino's rally in Makati was not massively attended yet pushed on in the face of a direct prohibition by the sitting President. No kayo yet to either side.
The declaration of a state of emergency is said to have thrown the several groups opposing Arroyo into a coalition of convenience because it may be perceived as leading to a kind of martial law if not actually constituting martial law. The police have been given the power to effect warrantless arrests and restrictions are said to be forthcoming on the press but their implementation has not yet been forthcoming as of this writing, possibly because the police and army are afraid to cross some kind of Rubicon. The next few days will indicate which way the symmetry will break.
As it happens, the USS Essex amphibious group is currently tied up providing rescue and relief to the victims of the massive landslide in Leyte. This will be awkward should the amphibious group be needed to cover the remote, but nevertheless conceivable scenario of securing US citizens in Manila.
The crisis has caught a lot of parties with a foot in the air. The next few days should clarify the situation.
posted by wretchard at 7:44 PM | 15 comments
State of Emergency declared in the Philippines 2
Former President Corazon Aquino has asked current President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to resign, according to Philippine Commentary, liveblogging from Manila.
Philippine MSM news celebrity and blogger Ricky Carangdang has the most sober take on the overall situation I have found:
Nail-biting weakened for all the political players in the Philippines.
posted by wretchard at 2:34 AM | 114 comments
I have absolutly no knowledge of Phillippine politics.
What's their beef with Arroyo?
Friday, February 24, 2006
The second day
The key question that has to be answered regarding the Gloria Arroyo's declaration of the state of emergency in the Philippines is: to what end? The ostensible reason for her actions is to defeat extralegal threats (aka coups de etat) against the state. Her opponents offer the alternative reason: to ensure an increasingly authoritarian continuance in office along the lines of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.
The state of emergency was aimed at meeting the following threat:
Which of these two paths -- to defeat a coup threat or cement herself in power -- will be clarified by events. There may be some uncertainty in the direction at first but the actual trajectory will be made manifest by Arroyo's own actions. Developments since the declaration of the state of emergency yesterday have been ambiguous. Blogger Ricky Carangdang notes the closure of the first newspaper.
This can be interpreted as part of the process of dismantling the media arm of the "systematic conspiracy" but it can also be seen as the first ominous step to muzzling press freedom. A Philippine lawyer-blogger now reports arrests of opposition political figures.
Both Beltran and Ocampo are members of the political wing of the Communist insurgency; former operators whose nearest analogue would be Gerry Adams of the IRA. These arrests can be construed as a strike against the "communist groups" allied with the "military adventurists" threatening the Arroyo government. But more suspicious minds will note that Congressman Beltran had an outstanding warrant from 1985 which could have been served without the emergency powers. Nor is it clear why the government takeover of "media companies and public utilities", as expressed by a government spokesman, has any relevance to suppressing a coup de etat, unless one can imagine why the telephone companies and television stations should be taken over as part of a campaign to suppress a rebel group within a national army.
It is precisely the lack of a visible crackdown on the rebel officers -- only a handful have been arrested -- which is the most curious aspect of events so far. It is unclear why Gloria Macapagal Arroyo should require emergency powers to rein in the Army when its mutineers are under the "personal custody" of superior officers. When the full measure of existing law is not applied, as in the case of the 1985 warrant on commie Congressman Beltran, what is the need for emergency powers? For a legal parsing of the emergency proclamation visit Proclamation 1017. The key riff:
Maybe some of the lawyers in the blogosphere can have a go at it.
There are two parts to facing the Philippine crisis. The first is to decide what red lines, if crossed, would constitute convincing proof of which motive -- the legitimate desire to defend a state or unbridled ambition -- is operative with Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The second, assuming the first part can be answered, is to decide what to do if the red line is crossed; what response is appropriate if it becomes apparent that the emergency process is not protecting the Philippine Constitution but dismantling it.
posted by wretchard at 10:56 PM | 9 comments
A little too much Mojo perhaps?
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Philippine crisis: the third day
The political crisis in the Philippines has taken an interesting turn. Former President Fidel Ramos, himself an ex-armed forces chief of staff, has said anyone taken into custody under what he described as the "pre-cooked" declaration of emergency worthy of the former dictator President Marcos would be regarded by posterity with honor.
A BBC survey of Manila newspaper headlines indicates opinion is still on the cusp. There is a reluctance to topple President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo through extralegal street demonstrations but there is also widespread suspicion of her motives. Fidel Ramos' moderate verbal opposition to the declaration of emergency still leaves the door open for a rapproachment betwen the two powers. It's a shot across Arroyo's bow with the unstated suggestion that the next volley may be fire for effect.
Still no KO by either side and the audience awaits the start of the next round.
posted by wretchard at 7:13 PM | 6 comments
Philippine Marine unit defies Arroyo: backs down
Breaking: The insubordinate Marine unit has stood down. At a press conference in the Philippines the insubordinate officer says he will not split the Marines. A variety of rumors are circulating to explain why the defiance took place and what persuaded the insubordinate unit to stand down.
Manila news has reported the following cryptic report:
More:Xinhua is now reporting that the Philippine Marine Colonel who led the "protest"? "rebellion"? has been arrested.
A Philippine Marine unit has defied President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's orders from positions within the main military base in the Manila area. There is no shooting so far but well known opposition figures are converging to where the rebels are gathered allegedly to provide political support.
For more information, go to Pajamas Media's coverage and Philippine Commentary.
The security force at the Presidential Palace has been augmented by police units. According to Manila news station ABS-CBN:
To illustrate the possible role of the Philippine Marines in the current coup crisis in Manila, readers can visit one of the coup plotter's websites. Remember the Tourist Guy -- the Internet legend who has posed everywhere and whose last photo was taken, smiling atop the World Trade Center on September 11? The coup plotters had their own version of the Tourist Guy in Philippine Marine Captain Nicanor Faeldon, who has a series of pictures which shows him posing, sometimes with a newspaper in hand, inside many major Philippine military bases after he escaped from jail on December 15, 2005, with the caption, "no one can stop me from entering these camps unless the corrupt generals themselves man the entrances", normally with some newspaper in hand to provide proof of date. He has equivalent pictures for Southern Command, National Police Headquarters, Central Command and at the General Headquarters Building.
Faeldon was recaptured on January 27, 2006. However, these instances indicate the depth of opposition to Arroyo.
The Philippine Bishops have denied they are calling for support for the rebels holed up inside the metropolitan military base. This reflects the reluctance by many sections of Philippine society to endorse an extra-Constitutional solution to the crisis in that country. However, there are apparently a fair number of political figures who are convinced that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo must resign. One of these is former President Corazon Aquino who called on Arroyo to resign. Breaking.
posted by wretchard at 4:49 AM | 19 comments
We have a member on here from there. Can't remember his name.
The standoff at the Philippine Marines HQ is over. It ended last night at around 10-11 PM (+8 Pacific Time).
The Marines who participated in the standoff returned to their barracks along with their Simba APCs and 2 very vintage "tanks" (actually an old landing craft).
Col. Querubin, who instigated the stand off was taken into "custody" by new Marine Commandant Gen. Allega. They were careful to stress that Col. Querubin was NOT under arrest and that any further actions against him will be "taken cared of" by the Marine Corps.
The standoff was actually triggered by the relief of then Marine Commander Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda. It turns out, allegedly, that Gen. Miranda was NOT relieved, hut voluntarily relinquisehed his command of the Philippine Marines.
Arroyo's initial assumption into power was only by virtue of her succeeding then Pres. Estrada who was deposed (because of alleged corruption) by a popular revolt in 2001. Back then, she was not really a popular choice among the people. However, since she was the VP then, the constitution dictates that she is the next in line to the Presidency.
During the recent Presidential elections. She sought re-election and ran against a VERY popular Filipino actor (please do not pillorize me i am just stating facts, neither was my choice for President) named Fernando Poe Jr.. She won, ALLEGEDLY by resorting to massive electoral fraud and cheating. May I stress the term ALLEGEDLY ... lest I be labelled a subersive or inciting to sedetion by some people here.
Last year, an audio tape was released to the public alledgedly of Pres. Arroyo and a Commission on Elections Commissioner Garcilliano. (It's the now famous "Hello Garci" tape). In that taped conversation, Arroyo was asking how her lead in the Presidential Elections was and by how much.
THIS was during the time of the COUNTING of votes.
After much uproar and calls for her to make a staement to the truth or falsity of the tape, she finally made a nationwide address ADMITTING that she was the one on the tape. BUT DENIED that there was anything illegal discussed thereon.
Hence the "beef" of some Filipinos.
ETA: that PLUS allegations that the first family was involved in the illegal numbers game called JUETENG. Jueteng was also the illegal numbers game that then Pres. Estrada was allegedly involved in which caused his downfall.
ALLEGEDLY because nothing has yet been proven in court and in some cases, no criminal charges has even been filed yet. But everything is as factual as I could put it.