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Home Columns A Cup O' Kapeng Barako Magsaysay Redux: History Repeating Itself
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Columns - A Cup O' Kapeng Barako
Tuesday, 08 June 2010 23:16

 

By Jesse Jose

A Cup O' Kapeng Barako

 

As that worn-out cliché goes, history repeats itself. 

 

But this story that was sent to me is far from being worn-out though.  It's very true and it will be forever be true, that the automated, highly-spirited and highly-contested Philippine election of 2010 will be remembered in future Philippine History books, as fraudulent in many ways...

 

Mainly because the people's votes were counted by a Venezuelan-made Smartmatic machines that turned out to be Palpakmatik machines.

 

But most of all, it confirmed my suspicion that the election of Noynoy Aquino as President of my "belabed" Motherland, the Philippines, is CIA-orchestrated.

 

Just like the downfall of the late strongman, President Ferdinand Marcos.

 

Just like EDSA 1...

 

Just like the "installation" of Tita Cory as President.

 

N ow history is repeating itself, once more, as good old USA performs another "installation" of a Philippine President, this time around, of the "anointed son," Noynoy, dubbed by cynics (that includes yours truly), as the "second coming." 

 

Uncle Sam has pulled a fast one, again, and Filipinos are cheering and worshipping this anointed son ... courtesy of Uncle Sam.  My Inang Bayan is truly a country of Wawa We! 

 

This story recently appeared in the column, "Strategic Perspective," of Rene B. Azurin in the well-read Philippine publication, Business World.  Enjoy.  I am sure many will not agree with it, especially those true believers of the Noynoy phenomenon.  Therefore, ngarud, may I suggest that you take your blood pressure pill first before reading it.  Here's the story, en toto:

Magsaysay Redux?

T he high-profile visit of American Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. to Benigno Aquino, III’s home to congratulate him on his election (before the official count had been completed) seemed to affirm the earlier contention of columnist Carmen Pedrosa (Star, March 20) that this election was characterized by "the intervention of a former colonial power." What it does, certainly, is recall the elections of 1953 when an Edward Lansdale-directed CIA operation got Ramon Magsaysay installed as President of this country.

 

As pointed out by (ex-CIA operative) Victor Marchetti and (ex-US State Department intelligence official) John Marks in their book, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence (1974), that particular operation was "the prototype for CIA covert operations during the 1950's" and Lansdale became so well known that "he served as the model for characters in two best-selling novels" (The Ugly American and The Quiet American).

 

Multi-awarded journalist Stanley Karnow writes in his book, In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines (1989), that Lansdale "had in effect invented Magsaysay." In Karnow’s telling, "Magsaysay listened reverently" while Lansdale would lecture him in a bedroom they shared after Lansdale and his bosses forced (with promises of aid) then President Quirino to appoint Magsaysay as Defense Secretary. The relationship of puppet master and puppet is reinforced by a story that (Karnow says) Lansdale would later tell that he once "kayoed" Magsaysay when Magsaysay failed to deliver a speech Lansdale had written.

 

Among Lansdale’s CIA associates (according to Karnow) were political operator Gabriel Kaplan, whose cover was head of what later became the Asia Foundation, and David Sternberg, whose cover was reporter for the Christian Science Monitor. Kaplan, interestingly, was the one who organized what became Namfrel (using Filipinos who were on the CIA’s payroll) "to propel Magsaysay forward" and that group "enlisted civic leaders, teachers and students to act as poll watchers." The CIA effectively "underwrote" Magsaysay’s presidential campaign against Quirino in 1953, channeling funds through JUSMAG and Kaplan’s poll watchdog group.

 

Distinguished Filipino historians Renato and Letizia Constantino – in their book The Philippines: The Continuing Past (1978) – confirm the deferential attitude Magsaysay affected toward his American patrons -- as well as toward his boss President Quirino -- but paint a more nuanced portrait of him as a shrewd and calculating politician who was similarly manipulating his supposed "superiors" to achieve his own ambitious ends. One of the things he apparently learned from Lansdale’s "psych-war" and "dirty tricks" operations was that, "with a cooperative press, it was easy to plant false information. "

 

Part of Lansdale’s buildup of Magsaysay involved organizing a well-publicized US visit, arranging meetings with American media, and getting him featured on the cover of Time magazine.

 

According to the Constantinos, "the choice of Magsaysay was part of a deliberate program supportive of Washington’s designs in Asia. His rise, so much the product of a good press, was part of the tactics of the new Asian rearrangement that the United States was imposing." The highest priority was given at that time "to CIA efforts to elect Magsaysay President... (because) a new stage in American thrusts for world hegemony had started."

 

Once Magsaysay was elected, the CIA station in Manila "continued to assist Magsaysay with advice, drafted some of his speeches, and gave him all sorts of support with his various problems. One CIA-funded project coordinated press support for Magsaysay’s internal programs and for his foreign policy in support of American objectives in Asia."

 

The CIA’s manipulation of Philippine media was apparently so effective that it "was copied by CIA stations in Latin America." This manipulation continued well after the death of Magsaysay (in a plane crash) through the CIA’s "press assets," meaning, "newspapermen in their employ or friendly to them whom they could use to plant news."

 

The point of this recollection of the Magsaysay story is that it sounds so eerily familiar more than half a century later. Of the building up then of Magsaysay, Karnow observed that, "In the Philippines at the time, to be called an ‘Amboy’ – ‘America’s boy’ – was a halo." Well, apparently, more-than half a century later, it still is. Is it possible that the recent elections made us all manipulated participants in a dusting off of the old Lansdale playbook, this time on behalf of Mr. Aquino? It would certainly explain the swagger and smugness of certain rabidly pro-Aquino journalists and spokesmen.

 

It would also explain the almost-ridiculous way the whole poll-automation exercise unfolded, beginning with the selection of an unknown and relatively inexperienced supplier (Smartmatic) , through the suspicious one-after-the- other discarding of all of the system’s supposed security features and the eve-of-the-election need to "reconfigure and replace" 76,000 memory cards unobserved by anyone, to the as-yet-unexplained use of the approximately P4-billion difference between the amount of the Smartmatic contract and the amount provided for the poll automation process.

 

If the US were involved, a conspiracy of this magnitude –  requiring the sheep-like cooperation of all the Comelec commissioners and the quiet acquiescence of Mrs. Arroyo and her boys – would be plausible.

 

One might note that the world is in crisis and "American thrusts for world hegemony" is threatened today by the emergence of China as an economic power. Describing the Philippines after the installation in 1953 of Magsaysay, the Constantinos wrote, "United States control over the country was complete. The Americans not only had Magsaysay but also a panoply of personalities and organizations that attempted to remold thinking and implement projects favored by Washington because they jibed with the global designs of the United States."

Ambassador Thomas made a point of saying that he did not discuss the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement with Mr. Aquino. Presumably, neither did he discuss the possibility of a permanent US base in Mindanao or oil concessions in the Sulu sea or the controversial Memorandum of Agreement with the secessionist MILF rebel group.

 

Were such discussions merely untimely? Or simply no longer necessary? Let’s watch how events unfold.

So, what do y'all think, Dear Readers?  Si Noynoy ba, eh, Amboy din?  I thought it was Gibo who was the Amboy.  And on his part, Gibo thought he was the "anointed one."  But it turned out to be Noynoy.  No wonder in his concession speech, Gibo said that the reason he lost, was because he was "betrayed."  He didn't say who betrayed him though.

 

Now, we know, ha?  History repeats itself, indeed.  JJ

 



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Comments (2)
Your view, Jesse, that the "highly-contested Philippine election of 2010 will be remembered in future Philippine History books, as fraudulent in many ways" boils down to the basic question, is Noynoy the rightful winner? If not, who is or could have been were there no CIA in the scenario?

Plus, given the substantial number of Fil-Ams who probably agree with you, I hope your article stirs up enough concern among our kababayan in the USA, home of the CIA. Or if a copy of your article gets to the CIA or their friends, it would be even more intriguing if the CIA responds. No matter what their answer. Admission or denial, it ought to be also remembered in the long annals of Philippine-American relations.

Lourdes Ceballos
Chicago, Illinois
2 Thursday, 10 June 2010 23:28
Hello Lourdes,

Thank you so much for your comment. I like it very much. You're indeed a woman of depth and wisdom. You said what I failed to say.

So, how are you these days? Haven't heard from you for so long. Take care always. And keep writing. A voice like yours must be heard above the common din of voices from within a Fil-Am community whose members merely echo one another. In other words, you hear one, you hear them all, each one saying exactly the same thing. It's refreshing to hear, for a change, a voice wise and different and knowledgeable. Thank you for sharing it all, especially that wisdom of yours.

Jesse

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