Gary Olivar, oddly enough while defending his boss’ non-attendance at the joint session of Congress last week that was supposed to review Presidential Proclamation 1959, let slip last Thursday (December 10) what he really thought about the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao.
One of the few Arroyo officials with at least half a brain, Olivar was explaining to the media why Mrs. Gloria Macapagal chose to attend to her other appointments last Wednesday (December 9) rather than show herself in Congress. Olivar harrumphed that neither the representatives of the people nor the senators of the supposedly strong but in reality limp Republic have any right to tell Her Majesty what she may or may not do.
At least one member of the Ampatuan clan seems to have recently discovered how important the media can be when the shoe’s on the other foot, and you’re being oppressed rather than doing the oppressing. Outraged over the supposed use of excessive force when Army troops stormed the hospital room of Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., an Ampatuan relative called ABS-CBN to complain about it.
The media had been barred by the military from covering the Army’s decision to finally arrest Ampatuan, three days after he checked himself into the hospital, in a ruse that should by now be familiar to most Filipinos. To escape the discomforts of a Philippine jail, every politician or similar creature of influence who has troubles with the law nearly always pretends to be sick so he can be placed in what’s known in this sorry country as “hospital arrest”. Claudio Teehankee Jr. did it so he wouldn’t have to spent a minute in Jejomar Binay’s Makati City jail while on trial for murder. Convicted but pardoned rapist Romeo Jalosjos also did it before he found heaven in the comforts of, and in his own hamburger stand in, the National Penitentiary.
The central paradox of failing and failed states is their capacity to inflict the gravest harm on their perceived enemies, their own people, and on humanity at large, while being weak when it comes to protecting the innocent or observing their own laws. Such states may be paper tigers, but they do have claws and teeth.
Philippines is not yet exhibit A in the gallery of failed and failing states. In the contest for that distinction are such African countries as Rwanda, Somalia, the Sudan, the Republic of the Congo. In Asia, among the candidates, but still far behind these sub-Saharan states, are Burma and Sri Lanka.