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Nov 29th
Home Columns Unsolicited Advice Again Tony Abaya Is Wrong: All Bets Are Off on PGMA Finishing Her Term
Again Tony Abaya Is Wrong: All Bets Are Off on PGMA Finishing Her Term PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Unsolicited Advice
Thursday, 14 August 2008 03:32

Much-respected Filipino columnist Antonio C. Abaya has been writing about his version of the worst-case and best-case scenarios for the Philippines. But in either case, Mr. Abaya has suggested that no matter what, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (PGMA) would continue to remain in power beyond June 30, 2010, when she is supposed to hand over the government to a newly-elected President. Again, this column says that Mr. Abaya is wrong and in fact, all bets are off on PGMA finishing her term. She could be deposed before Christmas in a peaceful EDSA-type revolution or in a bloody military takeover. If she refuses to emulate her predecessor and give up the presidential palace and seek asylum abroad, PGMA and some of the members of the First Family will end up in body bags, as Washington, DC-based writer Ado Paglinawan has forecast.


Mark this prediction: If Mr. Abaya is right and there is a military takeover, it will be done not by the top brass but by junior officers. All the corrupt generals participating with the First Family in the looting of the country will also be arrested and tried in a court martial. Why? The Filipino career soldiers know that ridding the national leadership of crooks is the only way to obtain at least the benefit of the doubt from, and the tacit support of, the Overseas Filipinos and the (foreign) governments of the countries where they are working or domiciled.


Time will tell if Mr. Paglinawan and/or this columnist are better Filipino versions of Nostradamus than Mr. Abaya.


Please do not get me wrong. This column and Mr. Paglinawan have never advocated the overthrow of PGMA. In fact, I sent unsolicited advices to PGMA, so that she can be able to do an honorable and orderly turnover to a new President, who will be elected in May 2010. Here are the articles that have been posted so far about saving the Arroyo presidency and salvaging a decent presidential legacy:


Saving the Philippine President from Herself (Part I)


Saving the Presidency and the Philippine President from Herself (Part II)


President Arroyo Does Not Really Get It


To read Mr. Paglinawan’s deadly scenario and how wrong Mr. Abaya is, please go to


Tony Abaya Is Wrong: PGMA Cannot Stay in Power Beyond June 2010  


Why Tony Abaya Doesn’t Know Presidential Politics: End of the Road for PGMA (A Fearless Forecast)


The Only Thing that Can Avert a Civil War Is to Remove Arroyo. Not later, But Sooner.


Similarities Between Saddam Hussein and Gloria Arroyo


GMA Will Never Be Able to Prolong Her Rule Beyond June 30, 2010, or Declare Martial Law


To read our articles about “reinventing” the Philippine military, please click on these links:


Reinventing the Philippine Military to Prevent the Coming of a Junta


Reinventing the Philippine Military (Part Two)


The Military Background of Philippine Presidents (Part 3)


A Call to Arms? (Part4 of Reinventing the RP Military)


Anatomy of a Filipino Coup (Part 5 of "Reinventing the Military" Series)


Here are excerpts from the latest article of Mr. Abaya:


“Thank you, Nene”

By Antonio C. Abaya

The Standard Today, August 14, 2008, issue



In my article Staring into the Abyss (Aug. 07), I had mentioned my talk before Irene Santiago’s Mindanao Commission on Women in Davao City last June 24, to which I had been asked to describe “What the Country Faces in 2010.”


In that talk, I painted a worst-case scenario and a best-case scenario. In the worst case scenario, I posited a continued escalation in the prices of oil and food; a new war in the Middle East as Israel and the neo-cons in Washington DC attack Iran’s nuclear facilities; which war would force the return home of hundreds of thousands of Filipino overseas workers; an increase in the inflation rate and a corresponding rise in criminality; and “a resumption of the war in Mindanao and Sulu as radical elements in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf raise the ante by making demands on the Manila government that they know the Manila government cannot accede to . . .”


These developments “would stretch the resources of the Philippine government and would encourage calls for either martial law or a military takeover…President Arroyo would respond positively to a call for martial law, whether the causes are real or manufactured. It would be in keeping with her desire to remain in power beyond 2010.”

And I concluded that, whether it will be martial law or military takeover, “Congress would be abolished, civil and political rights would be suspended, and there would be no presidential elections in 2010…”


In my best-case scenario, there is no wider war in the Middle East, the prices of oil and food stabilize, there is no resumption of hostilities in Mindanao and Sulu, no forced repatriation of Filipino overseas workers, no rise in criminality, ergo no credible reason to declare martial law . . .


“But President Arroyo would continue her maneuvers to remain in power beyond 2010, either as prime minister, if we switch to the parliamentary system, or as president without term limits, if we retain the presidential system . . .”


I said this because of the unabated efforts of Gov. Joey Salceda (since Feb. 11) to push for parliamentarianism, and of Senator Pimentel (since mid-June) to push for federalism. Pimentel’s federalism is specifically programmed to take effect before the end of President Arroyo’s term and specifically designed to be brought about through a constituent assembly (ConAss), where the Kampi/Lakas juggernaut in the Lower House would easily overwhelm any opposition from the Senate.


“So even under my best case scenario, I do not think there will be presidential elections in 2010 . . . It will be GMA all the way . . .” That was what I told my Davao audience last June 24. 


The other day (Aug. 12), I was asked to give a talk to the Management Association of the Philippines – ABCD Foundation, on a similar topic: “the likely scenario from now to July 2010” especially in the countryside.


In the 49 days since my Davao talk, the situation has deteriorated significantly because the resumption of hostilities in Mindanao – one of the ingredients in my worst-case scenario – has become a palpable reality.

Alleged lost commands of the MILF occupied villages beyond the boundaries of the present Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) into territories claimed for the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) and promised by the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD), even before that MOA could be signed and formally ratified in a plebiscite. Forcing the Philippine military to hit back at the MILF with artillery, APCs, infantry, OV-10 Broncos and attack helicopters in what possibly could be a precursor of things to come.


It is becoming obvious that the panel negotiating for the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) with the MILF was not being naïve and stupid when it initialed that MOA, knowing fully well that some of its provisos violated the Constitution and would likely trigger a backlash from the largely Christian majority in the general population as well as in Congress.


I distinctly recall that the “peace talks” in Kuala Lumpur were stalled more than a year ago because of two major issues: the issue of ancestral domain and the issue of the Constitution. The MILF objected to any reference to the Philippine Constitution since, according to them, they were rebels and, therefore, did not recognize that document.


The GRP panel, apparently with malice aforethought, gave in to the MILF demands. It initialed the MOA last July 27, without telling Congress, the general public or the residents of the affected areas, that it was ceding 712 barangays to the BJE, which would now become about 30 to 35 percent larger than the existing ARMM.

The GRP also gave in to the MILF demand that the Philippine Constitution is not to be mentioned at all in the MOA, although the MOA acknowledges that the central government (the GRP) needs to formalize the MOA with a plebiscite as well as with a constitutional change to the federal form of government. before the BJE can become a federal state in a federal union..


For its part, the MILF sniffs that all these legal and constitutional details are an internal problem for the GRP and are of no concern to them, and that the MOA is a done deal and is legally binding on the GRP. The implied threat is that if the MOA is not signed, war would resume.


During my talk to the  MAP-ABCDF, a member asked what I would prefer instead of the flawed MOA. I said what I have been proposing in this space since 2004, namely that senators should be elected by region, instead of by nationwide vote. This way, Muslims would always have a representative/s in the Senate, the highest policy-making body in the government. Moderate Muslims could thus be kept within the mainstream. Radical Muslims, on the other hand, would always opt for separatism and independence, no matter what. I will dwell on this in a future article.


Another member of the MAP audience asked which constitutional reforms I would favor. I replied: parliamentary and unitary, under certain conditions. One, the ChaCha should be done after 2010. And the Westminster model of parliamentary may have to be amended to allow for direct vote for the prime minister, because Filipinos are culturally used to voting directly for their head of state. This is not unheard of. As far as I know, Binyamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister of Israel by direct vote. It should be looked into.


It did not surprise me or anyone else that on Aug. 11 President Arroyo came out openly in favor of what everyone and his Muslim grandmother have known along that she would push, namely that we need charter change and a switch to the federal form of government to solve the peace and order problem in Mindanao.. (Thank you, Nene.) The GRP is being blackmailed, and willingly so, since the end result (federalism through charter change) coincides with the strategic goal of keeping President Arroyo in power beyond 2010.


Senator Pimentel protests that his Senate Resolution no. 10 deals only with a switch to federal and does not concern itself with extending anyone’s term or switching to parliamentary. But Pimentel is only the chief carpenter for the Trojan Horse. He has no say whatsoever on who will hide inside it. That is strictly for Gloria, Big Mike and Ronnie to decide. (Thank you, Nene.).

That the GRP has been negotiating at all with a bunch of outlaws, as the MILF admit they are, who have been allowed to control vast territories in Mindanao-Sulu-Basilan-Tawi Tawi which the Philippine military and police cannot enter, is a de facto recognition that the MILF is a separate government.


The MOA – even if only initialed – is the GRP’s de jure acknowledgement and guarantee (to the MILF) that the expanded  Bangsamoro Juridical Entity will soon become the Bangsamoro Federal State. Since the MILF has always been separatist, it is only logical that it will separate itself from the Philippine Republic, at the Zero Hour that it will choose.. (Thank you, Nene.) *****


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Last Updated on Thursday, 14 August 2008 08:19

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