deadliest deadline

meandering thoughts on the beat

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

telling it to the Marines

Last Monday night, GMA Reporter Raffy Tima showed me a text joke circulating. It said it took four hours for the Marines to define the word “relieve.” I didn’t find that the least bit funny. I’ve had the occasion to interview Col. Querubin and I found him to be a straight-up Marine who obviously cares about the Corps and his country. I agree, the guy is virtually a legend. Winning a Medal of Valor is nothing to sneeze at, as there are only a total of 19 given so far. He commands the respect of the battle-hardened Marines, and not only those under him. He almost died in the 1989 coup, so I get the feeling this is his second life. People who feel that way tend to have firmer principles and are bound stick out for them in any given situation. They are more likely to lay it all down and go all in, as poker players would say. Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda is no less different. He speaks his mind and doesn’t seem to care what people will say. Like Querubin, he loves the Corps and has the toughness to rally his men around him. I have no doubt in my mind both men are soldiers of the highest degree and are probably two of the most principled soldiers I have met so far. Add Gen. Gudani to this list. All these thoughts are running through my head as I still try to figure out what happened last Sunday inside the Marines headquarters. I remember what a lawyer-friend told me, it seemed the Marines didn’t have it in them to finally launch a fatal blow to the government and unseat The Short One from Malacanang. As I have intimated to friends, I was sure last Sunday was the beginning of the end somehow. So what happened? Was it just a matter of the Marines just sticking together and deciding to stay in their barracks rather than start shooting in the streets? Was this a tactical withdrawal? Could be a little of all. I am convinced Miranda was sacked and he didn’t feel very happy about it. But why was Miranda sacked? Does it have anything to do with the planned march on Feb. 23 or is it just a result of the internal wrangling and politics inside the armed forces? He said he was making a sacrifice for the Corps, but for what and why? Could all of this the result of one faction in the AFP prevailing over the other not to move? What’s the status, dynamics and alignments of these factions? I could be that the Filipino soldier is misreading the situation. In Edsa 1, citizens came out to protect the mutineers. That succeeded. In the 1989 coup, a full-blown military encounter is quashed. So now, they are probably thinking let’s go back to the strategy of Edsa 1. But events of recent days revealed that they can fail with that now. If they are thinking they should revert back to the old-fashioned coup strategy, the thought of shooting in the streets gives me the chills mainly because, they might now have the numbers already to win. So where does that leave the armed forces now? Obviously, rancor in the ranks exists. There’s corruption, there’s the involvement of four generals in election fraud. For the government to deny this would be foolish on their part. The military leadership must move swiftly show the public, and specifically the lowly private, that it is serious in weeding out wrongdoers in uniform. They can start with coming out with the results of a credible investigation in the involvement of four generals in election fraud. Incidentally, two of these generals have been promoted to important positions. Biazon has already revealed that Gen. Lim and Querubin approached him and asked that the four generals be investigated. The Senate has done that, but when will it be the turn of the military leadership? If they cannot do this, or are stifled by their commander-in-chief, then the military leadership must finally decide which side they are on. Or they can stay in their barracks and wait and watch as the country, and their very own armed forces, sink deeper into the quagmire. The last is obviously the easier choice. But who said change was supposed to be easy?

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