Monday, July 28, 2003


The crisis is over. The rebels have surrendered and have been returned to their barracks. But hours before that, their spokesman,Lt. Sg Antonio Trillanes was talking about exactly why they were doing what they were doing.

For a long time Trillanes and many of his peers have been frustrated by the corruption in the government and the Military. They tried to do something about the corruption within the law and when that did not work out, in desperation, they seized OAKWOOD hotel in Makati, planted bombs in the perimeter and in the hotel itself, and demanded that GMA and the AFP leadership step down. Did they take hostages and threaten to kill one every hour until their demands are met? No, they let all the people who were staying at the hotel, as well as the employees go. Were they threatening to send a missile or blow up some installation somewhere if their demands are not met? No, all the explosives they had were set around the perimeter for their own protection.

They have let go people, including some dignitaries from foreign nations, which they could have used as bargaining chips to both prevent the military from rushing in, and for their demands to be met. And yet they have not done that.

They have refused any negotiation, and repeatedly threw the ball at the people. It's up to the people who to believe, the corrupt military and government, or them, who they insist are the good guys. They took over the hotel without harming anyone, without firing a single bullet. And they said that the first shot will not come from them, and will fire only in their defense.

If they wanted our attention, they certainly got it. And when they did, they told us just what was on their minds. They said that the military is selling bullets and ammunitions to the very same Communist and Moslem rebels they are fighting against. Apparently, when they clash with insurgents and capture their camps, they discover ammunition and weapons that came from the military itself. They claim that the military was responsible for the bombing of the airport and wharf terminals in Davao. They claim that the military was responsible for the bombing of Moslem mosques. They should know, a number of them were ordered to throw grenades at the mosques but they had refused. I have no doubt that they believe all these with all their hearts. They believe it enough that they are willing to risk their own lives for it. They believe all this was done with the permission of GMA because Trillanes himself approached GMA about it and nothing was done. What else could he have concluded except to believe GMA was part of it? Although this leap in logic is somewhat hard for me to swallow personally, I could readily believe their other allegations. But what I confidently believe about them is this: That they are not acting under the orders of some higher power, that they truly believe in their cause, and that they would die for it.

Believing that the President herself is part of the corruption, they could no longer trust any institution within the government to air their grievances. Left with no recourse, they captured OAKWOOD, exposed the corruption within the government to the public, and hoped against hope that the people will believe them and rally with them, as the people rallied with Gringo Honasan, Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel Ramos against Marcos back in 1986. They were hoping that the people would be so indignant of the lies and corruption that they would flock in the millions to protect them and oust GMA from power.

But that didn't happen. The day ended with the rebels' surrender, and Trillanes' disappointment that the corruption will go unabated, the guilty parties not judged, and that the people wanted it that way.

Trillanes and his people risked their lives and careers to expose the truth about the corruption in government, but he feels that the people will not hear of it, and worse, not care. He will go on believing this, and with the exception of thwarted love, there is no pain greater than knowing you fought for what you believed was right and then lose in the end.

I fear that a seed has been planted in the minds of these young officers and soldiers, a seed that tells them that the people don't know what's good for them, that they are blind to corruption, that the people are no longer worthy to place their trust in. I fear that the time will come when the choice will be taken away from us, that in order to set this country straight, they will no longer trust us to do the right thing, but rather impose it on us through force.