Friday, June 12, 2009

Beyond banal rallies

The real issues stemming from GMA’s continued rule, apart from her con-ass, must be explained in detail to the people if we are to create a significant impact: From the economic collapse, with exports plunging 35.2 percent and the IMF projecting a one-percent contraction of the economy; to the growing number of unemployed at 30 percent; to the opening up of the country to foreign land grabbers, starting with the impending loss of Mindanao via Cha-cha; to the genocide being plotted by the global oligarchs with the H1N1 scare (or H1-ewan, according to the masa), leading to forced vaccinations that will prove to be time bombs when even the DoH’s Dr. Eric Tayag now admits dengue has proven to be far more deadly; to the continued exploitation of local oligarchs, with electricity set to rise again due to new price-fixing schemes of the National Grid of Razon. The only alternative, thus, to this doom is a nationalist and patriotic leadership, represented by President Estrada in the electoral front and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim in the military. Banal rallies can no longer bring these to the nation.

After over eight years of organizing and leading various anti-GMA outdoor demonstrations, I have become less enthusiastic about staging them today as they’ve become ineffective--not to mention, costly. They achieve very little in communicating the issues to rouse the people into eroding the dictatorial hold on power of the MalacaƱang usurper. Like the Makati gathering last Wednesday, these rallies don’t even reach a fifth of those organized by Edsa III leaders--particularly the one in Makati last October 2004, where I was pinned down by a phalanx of riot police, which became doubly memorable because it hit the pages of international news.

Over the years, a succession of corrupt, jueteng-fattened PNP top brass have perfected the art of dissipating rallies and demonstrations even before they gather steam. From intimidation of urban poor communities, from where organizers assemble much of the large marching crowds eager to vent their frustrations; to cutting off access to jeeps and buses at major entry points for provincial participants; to breaking up marches into little fragments; all the way to preventing small groups of MRT commuters, suspected of being rally participants, from boarding the trains--these tactics of suppression have taken their toll on the enthusiasm of people, on top of the difficulties from the high cost of transportation and the economic downturn.

Last Wednesday’s protest against con-ass pointed to several other more effective avenues. The Facebook campaign alone elicited over 16,000 participants, not including all those other countless Yahoo! and other chat group members. After joining with the Magdalo contingent, I took off for my radio program where certainly more Filipinos (including soldiers in their barracks) were able to listen in and participate by way of text messaging, thus, discussing the issues more in detail. And in these alternative “demonstrations” via the Internet and media, we avoid one of the biggest pitfalls in organizing physical rallies--the turf battles of different groups, particularly the domineering and opportunistic tactics of groups like Bayan Muna, Black and White, and other “civil society” politicians.

Despite a standing rule last Wednesday of each group supposedly getting only two minutes of onstage speaking time, Satur Ocampo noticeably spoke much, much longer. And although the Black and White group committed a contingent of 3,000, what arrived with Leah Navarro was certainly not more than 30. Oh, and the Bangon groups of Eddie Villanueva promised thousands but not even one seemed to have turned up. Meanwhile, Adel Tamano, who’s now joined the trapo NP of Villar for an undisclosed but very big sum, tried to talk his way into getting onstage to ham it up as in the past. This time, the marshals stopped him. Leah Navarro tried the same, hoping to get a boost for her senatorial candidacy, but she was also stopped. Likewise, the LP’s Butch Abad (Mr. Balak Beauty of the EPIRA fame) also tried and was blocked.

If any, what that weak turnout last Wednesday proved is that without the Edsa III forces and President Estrada’s mass support, rallies and demonstrations of the “opposition” cannot generate the impact aimed for. Even the supposed support of business groups like the Makati Business Club, represented by its SecGen Bertie Lim in meetings at Binay’s office, didn’t boost crowd participation despite being held in Ayala Avenue . Bayan Muna, as coordinator, also turned off many other sectors instead of increasing participation.

The genuine anti-Gloria movement must therefore veer away from coalescing with such forces that turn off more people than they attract. New strategies and tactics must be employed--through the Internet, broadcast media, along with making the rounds in schools, churches, civic clubs, AFP groups--by using speeches and documentaries like the MTRCB-banned “Ama ng Masa” of Estrada and one which I hope Gen. Lim can soon have too.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Sulong Pilipinismo, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Monday with Atty. Alan Paguia, Wednesday with former Mayor Jun Simon, Friday with UMDJ’s Ver Eustaquio / Teachers for National Transformation, 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday; Talk News TV, Destiny Cable, Channel 3, 8:15 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Tuesday on “Hello Garci and Whistleblowers II;” also visit