Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Continuing Saga of Military Adventurism
Posted by: Isa Lorenzo | November 30, 2007 at 9:52 pm
Filed under: Governance, In the News

MILITARY adventurism has been embedded into Filipino culture since the time of martial law, where, as the Feliciano Fact-Finding Commission reported in 2003, the politicization of the military coincided with the erosion of civilian political institutions that had oversight powers over it.

The lack of institutional checks on the military’s power and influence, combined with the failure of previous governments to punish previous putschists, corruption within the military, and the failure of military officials to provide basic needs of soldiers on the field, has only led to one coup attempt after another.

A PCIJ report noted in last year’s failed attempt to withdraw support from the government that one key factor in the continuing saga may be President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose “desire for re-election and survival…has further weakened the military as an institution and further contributed to the disenchantment in the ranks.”

To date, the country has weathered close to a dozen coups and coup attempts. Below is a timeline of military rebelliousness, a situation that isn’t likely to change anytime soon:

February 1986

People heed the call of Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, and stream into Edsa to protect Defense secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and Philippine Constabulary Chief Fidel Ramos who are holed up in Camps Crame and Aguinaldo. The Edsa revolution aborts a coup planned by the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) against dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

July 1986

Thousands of Marcos supporters, including 300 soldiers, seize the Manila Hotel and declare the formation of a rebel government. President Corazon Aquino quashes the revolt after 38 hours. The mutineers were given 20 push-ups as punishment.

November 1986

RAM forces attempt to ease Aquino out of power through a campaign of assassinations and a takeover of the Marcos-era parliament.

January 1987

Five hundred pro-Marcos soldiers attempt to take over four military camps and the private Channel 7 television station. 150 soldiers occupy the latter for three days before surrendering. The event later becomes known as the Channel 7 incident.

April 1987

Thirteen armed enlisted men crash through the gates of Fort Bonifacio. They free 42 imprisoned soldiers and hold 120 people, including four colonels, hostage. One rebel sergeant is killed and four others are wounded in the ensuing firefight. The mutineers surrender after eight hours. Dubbed the Black Saturday Incident, what happened was more of an attempted jailbreak than a mutiny.

August 1987

Rebel officers, led by charismatic Colonel Gregorio ‘Gringo’ Honasan, occupy army headquarters as part of an attempted military coup. Fifty-three people are killed and 358 are wounded before the rebels are defeated after 18 hours.

December 1, 1989

About 6,000 troops seize three military bases and two television stations in Manila, close the airport and bomb MalacaƱang. U.S. President George Bush backs Aquino and American F-4 Phantom jets launch “intimidation flights” over the capital to help end the week-long mutiny.

January 2001

Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado, armed forces chief General Angelo Reyes and top military and police officers withdraw support from disgraced president Joseph Estrada and help install his vice president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, to power in a church-backed popular uprising called Edsa Dos.

July 2003

About 300 junior officers calling themselves the Magdalo seize control of the Oakwood luxury apartment in Makati in a one-day mutiny. They surrender without a shot being fired.

February 2006

On the 20th anniversary of the first People Power revolution, troops loyal to Arroyo announce that they have thwarted an attempt by rogue soldiers to withdraw support from the government. A state of national emergency is declared, followed by a mutiny of the Marines at Fort Bonifacio.

November 29, 2007

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Brigadier General Danilo Lim walk out of their court hearing on the failed 2003 mutiny along with about two dozen Magdalo soldiers. They hole up in the posh Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati and call for the overthrow of the President. After a six-hour standoff, they walk out of the hotel in order to avoid casualties. Media covering the event are also arrested and a five-hour curfew is imposed.

Sources: Kudeta, BBC, Reuters

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