The Marcos terror regime may have been overthrown 31 years ago, the institutions of liberal democracy restored, and a new Constitution drafted. But the threat of dictatorship has never really passed.
The conditions that made the making of a tyrannical regime possible in 1972 are still in evidence. Among them are a lawless and self-aggrandizing political class afflicted with the authoritarian virus; an unreformed police and military establishment that is similarly impaired; and those sectors of the population impatient with the inefficiencies of what passes for democratic governance and who imagine one-man rule to be the cure-all for the country’s ills.
Eigth out of ten Filipinos, a December 17 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey has found, fear that they or someone they know could be a victim of extrajudicial killings or EJKs.
As Senator Grace Poe has observed, the fear is understandable in view of the epidemic of killings in the course of the Duterte anti-illegal drug campaign. The police killing spree has claimed not only the lives of drug pushers and users; it has also victimized both those individuals who have nothing to do with the drug trade as well as drug addicts driven to the habit by poverty and desperation.
On July 10, or less than two weeks into his presidency, Benigno Aquino III told the Department of Justice to review the coup charges, which he described as “unjust,” against former Navy lieutenant and now Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. The order was interpreted at the time as part of Mr. Aquino’s efforts in behalf of the Francisco Pangilinan campaign for the Senate presidency. But serial coup plotter Gringo Honasan was already proposing an amnesty for Trillanes even then.
Honasan got his wish early this October, when Mr. Aquino issued Proclamation No. 50 granting Trillanes and his fellow Oakland Hotel mutineers amnesty, an act that’s been interpreted as either an attempt to buy the loyalty of the Trillanes-Lim faction in the military, a message that the Arroyo government against which Trillanes mutinied in 2003 was not legitimate, or both.
“The next coup will be at 8 p.m. tonight,” Kavi Chongkittavorn declared at the start of a meeting of the board of directors of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) last week in Bangkok. Kavi is editor of The Nation, one of only two English-language newspapers in Thailand, and chairs SEAPA. Five journalists’ and media groups from Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand comprise SEAPA, a non-governmental organization founded in 1998 for the defense and enhancement of free expression and press freedom.
The ever good- humored Kavi meant his “announcement” as a joke. But as the whole world knows, a military coup removed the Thaksin Shinawatra government from power one sultry night in Bangkok in 2006. Although the generals did eventually allow elections, and there’s a civilian government in power in Thailand, political instability and the fact that coups have occurred so often in Thailand have made another Night of the Generals at least possible.