Saturday, March 04, 2006

Militarization of Philippine politics?

On the surface, President Arroyo’s lifting of emergency rule is good news. But many see it as a superficial and a conditional move: According to today’s Philippine Daily Inquirer banner headline, the “crackdown continues.” Furthermore, the president has declared she would not hesitate to act “with the same force of will and determination” if deemed necessary.

I see no signs that one week of emergency rule contributed to ending the political turmoil. Ironically, the draconian measure may even have strengthened the opposition for a short while by pulling GMA’s opponents together. On the other hand, the anti-Arroyo forces continue to be divided lacking a common strategy and leadership. “Arroyo’s insurance policy is the absence of any credible successor,” concludes journalist Seth Mydans in today’s International Herald Tribune.

If, at all, there is a winner following this sad and illiberal one-week episode in Manila, it is probably the Philippine military. While the Armed Forces, like most institutions here, are divided, the much debated cracks in the chain of command, according to Amando Doronila, puts the (loyal) Generals in the position of powerbrokers and kingmakers:

“The government has become hostage to the military as it becomes more dependent on the military if political resistance to the crackdown escalates.”

So far, one main concern has been the politicization of the military. A possible next – even more hazardous - scenario may be the militarization of Philippine politics.


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