Monday, April 27, 2009

The chaff from the grain

Gen. Alexander Yano’s retirement as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (CS-AFP) seems to be overdramatized by some opposition quarters these days. They believe that Yano is being retired a month early because he declined to give support to any Cha-cha moves by telling Gloria Arroyo’s representative that he would only follow what is legal and wouldn’t fire upon the Filipino people if ordered. The other story, however, which I think is more credible is that this is merely part of the deal to ease tensions created by an earlier botched plan to appoint Gen. Delfin Bangit of Class ’78 as the next CS-AFP, leapfrogging Gen. Victor Ibrado of Class ’77. As Ibrado is now slated to replace Yano, he is given more time before Bangit slides in by March of 2010, with Yano getting an ambassadorship in time for the CA hearings--hence, the May 1 retirement.

Gen. Yano is indeed the “professional” soldier that he’s touted to be. So “professional” is he that it seems more priority is placed on this career move rather than on saving the nation from the continuing oppression of the ruling class. Predictably, the rest of the AFP top brass are no different either. They have all been in step with Gloria’s game plan: Satisfy the career issues of promotion and PMA class prerogatives, and the country can go hell. Of course, much more is at stake for Yano--a traditional P50 million “pabaon,” as well as, an additional P150-million sweetener Gloria has reportedly arranged as his golden parachute. Yano is no Hugo Chavez, that’s clear.

All this leaves the “transition government” of Chief Justice Puno high and dry. And since Puno can’t win in an election, that leaves his “moral revolution” on the dry docks too. Thus, all options lynch-pinned on a hoped-for Puno-Yano formula are now kaput, demolished by this “professionalism” in the military.

Providentially, it is this same “professionalism” which also separates the chaff from the grain. The few who dared to stand up, going beyond professionalism to uphold patriotism and nationalism, are seen in the likes of Gen. Danilo Lim, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Gen. Renato Miranda, Col. Ariel Querubin, Maj. Jason Aquino, Lt. Dante Langkit, the Bagong Katipuneros (a.k.a. Magdalo), Capt. Nic Faeldon, et al.

Yano, in contrast, will only be joining the ranks of the elite while the country he is supposed to serve sinks deeper in the morass of the following worsening exploitative conditions: 1) industrial power rates--already the highest--and residential rates--second highest in Asia--set to go higher with the approval of the larcenous “performance-based” scheme, giving windfall profits to two new Meralco investors; 2) the perverted globalization-dependent economic paradigm yielding zero growth for the Philippines and more unemployment (which we had predicted from the very start of the crisis).

Speaking of our burdensome power rates, the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reform (Nasecore) protested the manner in which Psalm is carrying out the privatization of government’s power plants--including hydro and geothermal. Even as the law intends the sale to be in different power mixes, Psalm is selling off the most economical hydroelectric plants first, then leaves Napocor only with the operationally expensive fossil fuel plants that perpetually keep power rates high. Is it any wonder that only the oligarchs win in either instance? So would Yano still care about this now that he’s about to join the ranks of the filthy rich?

The triumph of “professionalism” over patriotism, as exemplified by this apparent Yano sell-out, gives ample pause to those who believed that the armed forces, like in many South American countries today, can be a source of our patriotic hope. For as long as the AFP mindset continues to be limited to its officers’ “professional” aspirations--with no regard for principles of nationhood, there can hardly be any truth to the Philippines ’ independence and sovereignty. So as I look at the aftermath of the Daniel Smith-“Nicole” case, I can only laugh, because I only see a comedy from the very start. “Nicole” is the quintessential poor Filipino girl, same as any extremely poor African, Thai or Indonesian lass, who chooses to escape from poverty and misery by succumbing to the wiles of a US visa, even at the risk of personal or national pride.

Thank God for the grains of gems in our midst, symbolized by the continuing sacrifices of Gen. Danilo Lim, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and company. They are proof that we can continue to hope in our AFP. Maybe the next time around, we’ll have patriotism triumph over careerism and opportunism for a change. Right now, though, the one benefit we can derive from this Yano letdown is a renewed awareness of our need to wage a continuing political conscientization campaign among our military. And as we cling to civilian leadership for the greater part of this mission, let us bear in mind that President Joseph Estrada and the Edsa III forces are the only ones capable of forging opposition leadership, unity, and eventual victory.

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