Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gloria scolds the generals ...

in Myanmar. Our President has scathingly described the generals in Myanmar as "forces of authoritarianism." So how should the generals in Myanmar describe our own Generals Ebdane, Esperon and Palparan -- "our fellow friendly fascists"? This is a situation where someone who lives in a glass house decides to throw rocks at a neighbor who has not only endured this kind of rock-throwing before, but doesn't care about the sound of glass breaking at all. Someone in Malacanang --I suspect Foreign Secretary Bert Romulo, in a well-intentioned but in the end ineffectual effort, is trying to stoke whatever democratic ember he thinks is left in the administration. But Secretary Bert, really, who's left other than you? After Nonong Cruz, whose last-stand at Camp Aguinaldo foiled the silly ambitions of Norberto Gonzalez to elevate himself into some kind of bargain-sale Pinoy version of Karl Rove by becoming the Philippine military's designated civilian mouthpiece,there's no one else of any weight in the Cabinet who can somehow slow down the advance of that worst kind of combination: mediocrity and militarism. With the likes of Bert Gonzalez and Sergio Apostol (mediocre fascist and mediocre lawyer, respectively) conspiring with the retired and recycled generals now eagerly applying their incompetence and, yes, AFP-inherited "conversion" techniques in civilian agencies, this anti-Myanmar initiative will backfire.

How can it not? When our President demands that those "forces of authoritarianism" in Myanmar release their political prisoners, our own forces of authoritarianism have no one to release because they don't make arrests, they kill and make activists disappear. When our President insinuates that the Philippines might vote against ratifying the ASEAN's newly-signed treaty formally laying down the group's declaration of principles, including the promise of setting up a human rights monitoring mechanism for the region, who would take that threat seriously when that is precisely what the domestic human rights violators in her own country's security forces might prefer?

So what is she up to and what's all this anti-Myanmar noise? It might be noise to the generals in Yangon (or whatever they spell it now or wherever they have moved their capital to) but it's music to the ears of people that Mrs. Arroyo wants to please -- desperately. The European Union can't get the ASEAN to join it in imposing economic sanctions on Myanmar; our President wants the EU to get off her back already about the extrajudicial killings and disappearances that the Filipino generals she can't control have carried out with impunity. She hopes that by giving the EU the next best thing to sanctions, that is, an ASEAN member unafraid of breaking ranks and breaching diplomatic courtesy -- she can confuse them, at the very least, or convince them, at most, that there is a distinction between military rule in Burma and the military ruling her in the Philippines.

Above all, our President wants the United States to hear her pompously scold the generals in Myanmar because that is what the United States wants to hear: pompous scolding. That's the same kind they give to generals in Myanmar, but not to that general in Pakistan or the generals in the Philippines. Mrs. Arroyo hopes - and with some basis,I think -- that she will be seen in certain Washington D.C. circles as their only doorstop in the ASEAN threshold, the kind the Americans need to leave that door blocked open so that China and India are not the only ones hanging around the region and getting all the deals done. With our President "taking the lead" in promoting democracy in the region, hey, who needs to protect democracy in the Philippines when they need it more in Myanmar?

Whoever in Malacanang calculated it would be a good idea for someone who can't control her own generals to be instead haranguing foreign generals in Myanmar may have thought: "oh, look, who else in ASEAN can say "authoritarianism" without sounding hypocritical?" Um, the Sultan of Brunei? Thailand is ruled by generals. Indonesia is ruled by generals. Malaysia is ruled by Mahathirs's extended family. Singapore is ruled by Lee Kuan Yew's extended family. Cambodia is ruled by ex-Maoist generals. Vietnam and Laos are ruled by comrades who may or may not all be ex-Maoists and generals but are as intolerant as the Maoists and generals in the Philippines. (This is so sad, no?) So that's how the logic may have gone: our President thinks she can demand that Myanmar's generals release Aung San Suu Kyi, their most famous house -arrested prisoner of conscience, just because she made an example of releasing Erap, our own famous house-arrested prisoner with no conscience. go to main page


Blogger mschumey07 said...

Nope, Gloria's loyal pups. Did you know that a retired CS is given tens of millions as a retirement gift? And of course, a cabinet appointment awaits the loyal mongrels.

7:32 PM  

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