Forgiveness for coup d ‘etat plotters

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by Totie Mesia

Pardon one offense, and you encourage the commission of many.
Publilius Syrus (~100 B.C.)

The old quote seemed to come true in Philippine politics. Since the mutinies staged by Gringo Honasan during Pres. Cory Aquino’s time, “destabilizations” and attempts to grab power by the military came in succession. Unlike the poor and less influential criminals languishing in the country’s jails, many of those involved in past putsches didn’t get the punishment they deserved.

Recently, the pardon given by President Gloria Arroyo as advised by outgoing Gen. Hermogenes Esperon for nine “remorseful” military officers who figured in a repeat hotel mutiny may well encourage more power-grabs in the future.

There are those who’re dismayed and skeptical of the general’s and Mrs. Arroyo’s motives even if she appeared cocksure in saying,

Where there are “rogue” members of the Armed Forces involved in adventurism or human rights violations, Esperon has substantiated his “commitment to let the wheels of military justice roll smoothly.”

She said the former military chief has shown that no one is above the law, even as he supported moves to pardon some Magdalo officers who have shown “remorse and utmost desire for rehabilitation.”

The President said “the nation wants peace, order and stability, not more political shenanigans” as she reiterated that 99 percent of military personnel are “good, upstanding and loyal patriots fighting to protect our country everyday.” (Philstar, 05/13/03, Porcalla D, et al)

Fugitive Magdalo leader Capt. Nicanor Faeldon reacted by branding Gen. Esperon as one of the president’s “personal guard dogs.” Through his lawyer Trixie Angeles, he lamented that Esperon, “once a worthy officer,” was corrupted by Mrs. Arroyo who pardoned Pres. Joseph Estrada last year for robbing the nation’s treasury. Faeldon went on to accuse the Mrs. Arroyo of being a “fake” president. He blamed her for institutionalized corruption and masterful lying.

Reflexively, the Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez raised his doubts on the mutineers’ pardon when he said,

I just wonder about the motives of the government [for granting the pardon— at kung meron bang kapalit [and if there was anything asked in return]. It is always a tit for a tat.” (PDI, 05/12/08, Kwok,A)

With Mrs. Arroyo’s sagging credibility, people question whether her act of forgiveness is real. Is it part of another accommodation she needed to do so she can keep military loyalty? Is it her way diffusing attention from unsolved scandals rocking her administration? Will this pardon help make Filipinos set aside their fears over problems that loom in the horizon? =0=

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