Mad logic of events

HERE'S THE SCORE By Teodoro C. Benigno

The Ides of March are just around the corner. And this time they may just fulfill their legendary mission of jolting our political planet and sending the ground under our feet shaking like it never shook before. I am, of course, referring to the issue of FPJ’s citizenship and the possibility the Supreme Court may disqualify him from seeking the presidency. This is the issue that rattles all the coffee shops in town, that deeply disturbs café society as it does the hoi-polloi, as it does every thinking Filipino.

If it should come to pass that FPJ is disqualified, we are grimly told, then all hell will break loose.

What the hell is all hell? There is talk about street stampedes by the thousands or tens of thousands waged by the assembled masa of Joseph Estrada, the hand-me-down masa of the dead dictator Ferdinand Marcos, not to mention the masa of FPJ himself. What can they do? Well, we are told, they can lay siege on the Supreme Court, slit the throats of the offending justices, then march on to Malacañang in a final stampede to hound President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo out of power.

Remember? Just several weeks ago, Erap Estrada warned of "civil war" if his protégé FPJ would be disqualified. Many still hark back to the so-called EDSA Tres May 1, 2002. In the dawning, thousands of Filipino descamisados, the "shirtless", egged on by fascist political firebrands, (some of them now top advisers of FPJ) launched an incredible siege on Malacañang. If they had guns, and a tank or two, fighter-bomber overhead, they would have triumphed. Eventually they were beaten back by the police and the military.

GMA, white as sheet, was nowhere to be found. The night before, I was her solo dinner guest in Malacañang. And we talked a lot. "I will crush them!" she told me. I was informed she was helicoptered out of the Palace before the siege occurred. And came back only when the coast was clear.

So? Is it likely the Supreme Court will hit FPJ’s citizenship issue right out of the ballpark, meaning disqualify him? Two answers. No, the Supreme Court will not allow the nation to go to the brink. It will seek to preserve a fragile peace at any cost, and allow FPJ to continue his presidential bid – unfettered and unhindered. Yes, the Supreme Court will nail FPJ. It will nail him as lacking the status of a natural-born Filipino and therefore constitutionally unfit to aspire for the nation’s highest pos. Bam!

There is logic for both.

For the first scenario, the Court is bidden by its conscience to preserve the peace. Why court social unrest that can get out of control? It will be best to allow the campaign to continue, allow FPJ to continue. Why rock the boat? Why stir and wake up the hounds of Baskerville? If FPJ wins and deserves to win on an honest tally, then that’s democracy. If he should fail as president, then that’s his problem.

For the second scenario, the logic is not that simple. Sed lex, dura lex. The law may be hard, but it is the law. If the evidence, the documents, yield enough proof that FPJ is not a natural-born citizen, then let the law in all its awful and frightening majesty take its course. There can be no exception. There should be no fear a negative decision by the Court will subject it to the ugly, perhaps bloody, yelps, bleatings and pummelings of the mob. The military, the police will have to throw them back.

And yet, even as you chomp your teeth on these two scenarios, you know the whole thing goes much deeper. And there you see a different monster in the pits.

As they say, the devil is in the details. Now, listen well.

GMA has appointed seven, now eight (with the entry of Sandiganbayan presiding judge Minita Chico-Nazario) members of the 15-man High Court. We are not saying all seven or eight are tumbleweed ready to do the bidding of the president. We are simply saying that, as in tennis, the advantage belongs to GMA. Before the great advantage was held by the Marcos dynasty which stacked the court. And so the Supreme Court, en banc, rescued Imelda Marcos from a guilty verdict issued by a lower division on charges of malversation. Imelda didn’t spend a single day in jail.

Now, even deeper waters suck us in. Listen again.

It is the mad logic of events. As I have been informed, the FPJ battle armada – should Da King win and land in Malacañang – will blast the Supreme Court skyhigh before it blasts anything else. Why? All Da King’s hordes and all Da King’s men have a mad-on against Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide. Together with his kindred justices, Davide reportedly has dominion over a clutch of criminal cases inculpating Eduardo (Danding) Cojuangco, principally the coconut levy issue, the hottest potato of them all. Manny Pelaez said it was the mother of all scams.

Danding Cojuangco is perceived to be, even more than Erap Estrada, the chief backer of FPJ. Only just two months ago, the so-called Brat-Pack of Mr. Cojuangco in the House, came within inches of impeaching Chief Justice Davide. It was, oooh, close. Davide won by the skin of his teeth because the people rallied around him, pounded angrily on the Brat Pack – actually Danding’s NPC (Nationalist People’s Coalition). Speaker Jose de Venecia eventually rallied to the Chief Justice’s decision. The Brat Pack’s impeachment charges came a cropper.

Follow the scent? It’s grim and ghastly. Vast fortunes are involved, political empires, huge egos. And the nation teeters.

The added logic is that it is better for the Supreme Court now to stop FPJ in his tracks before his campaign becomes an avalanche. Now it might still be manageable. Later, FPJ and company – it is said – can muster, aside from their teeming hordes, an armed component that can bust the streets up, throw terror into the republic, back the citizenry against the wall. Right now, they cannot do that. The police and the military are still too strong for them, no matter how they hiss and snarl.

In the face of all this, what is GMA doing?

For sure, she can (and I think she will), call – sub rosa, of course – upon her appointees in the Supreme Court to lower the citizenship boom on FPJ. She may not even have to if the evidence against Da King is strong, persuasive, compelling. If so, the whole thing becomes lawful. It is a decision, I think, that will be jubilantly supported by much of civil society, certainly by the middle class, most certainly by the forces that buttressed the two EDSAs. You hear it often said they will no truck with the likes of Juan Ponce Enrile, Ernie Maceda, Kit Tatad, Gringo Honasan, Ed Angara, Tito Sotto, and – yes, impliedly – Danding Cojuangco.

But even if the High Court disqualifies FPJ, GMA’s dilemma is far from over.

The social floods could rise. They will swirl around her knees, around her waist. They could bring her down if she doesn’t watch out. For not just the FPJ forces will wage street war on her but the fighting bulk of civil society which no longer supports her. And this will include the multitudes of Brother Eddie Villanueva and Raul Roco. They may have gone into the presidential campaign with acolyte innocence. But once they are convinced they were waylaid, buncombed and cheated, they too will join street demonstrations.

And how about the massed street might of the Left? They too will pour into the streets demanding that GMA step down. GMA they cannot stomach. She nestles on the laps of Uncle Sam. Both reportedly conspired to designate the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization, a sitting duck for armed annihilation. And now, scores will have to be settled. The makings, the beginnings of Armaggedon?

This brings in the military.

Now we have come full circle. Will the top generals continue to support GMA? And if they do, can the chain of command hold? Will the majors and the captains play along? Or will they seethe and simmer separately, then explode into a dozen Oakwood mutinies that could catch fire this time and bring in a support system that could terrify and subdue the generals? If the streets should smoke and belch mayhem and bedlam, will the command staff of generals abandon GMA as Gen. Angelo Reyes and the others did Joseph Estrada?

Will they link up with the streets? Or will they prefer to seek and seize power and establish martial rule? If they do, can they last since, very obviously, the citizenry will fight back?

So, there you are. I know what I have just written is a script custom-built for mayhem, for Beelzebub. It is just as well that I disturb the minds of the citizenry, for it’s time we look reality in the face. To those who will listen, I have been saying all along: "The worst is yet to come."

13/02/2004

With the courtesy of  Sidney Snoeck

Bron : The Philippine Star

Archief - Home