Where is the National Security Council?

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RENE SAGUISAG

WILL Prez Duterte rely on his generals on how long martial law in Mindanao would last? Does he not see wisdom in Clemenceau’s cautionary counsel that war is too important a matter to leave to the generals? Civilian supremacy is our lodestar (but please, not civilians like Speaker Bebot Alvarez who even now says martial law till 2022. Josme!).

This paper bannered  yesterday that Digong may ask communist Russia for help. Land-grabber communist China has donated arms. I doubt if such would boost the morale of our troops who see these countries as giving aid and comfort to our local commies who kill our soldiers.

On Marawi, so, Digong now sees the beginning of the end? I see only a Churchillian end of the beginning.

Military intelligence failed on the preparation and entry of the Mautes, hence, the wrong time for Digong to visit Russia. It failed in assessing how long the Battle of Marawi would last.


Digong should be with the people, not only with the military. He ignores the Lanao del Sur Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) chapter, and Congress, and vowed to ignore the Supreme Court, in case of an adverse ruling. Only the military he would heed. Civilian supremacy gone.

NSC not pliable or predictable
And just why do we not hear about the National Security Council (NSC) being convened? Is the Palace allergic to contrary views? The Palace wants unanimity behind the Prez but the compulsory unification of opinion, no matter how subtle, can only lead to the unanimity of the graveyard, to filch from Justice Jackson. That is why we have an NSC, which the Prez has not convened, as it is not pliable or predictable, unlike Congress or the military.

NSC members may be voices, not echoes. Better for Digong to convene the NSC than rely on the wimpy chuwari-wari choirs in the Bigger House and the supposedly Better House.

Right on, Sonny Trillanes, for preserving a semblance of independence of the Senate, helping save the institution.

Military intelligence (MI) bombed in not knowing about the May 23, 2017, Maute terrorism start. So, Digong flew to Russia. MI kept predicting the Marawi end in weeks and again only proved to be a contradiction in terms. We are now on our eighth week.

Resplendent, or Craven, 11?
I believe the jury is still out on the Supreme Court 11-3-1 voting on ML. I would not agree now that Justice Leonen’s dissent is “baseless,” or some such.

Too soon? We may need to await the wisdom of a new day. My own gut feel is that if Leonen is not our new Teehankee, he could be our new consistent Concepcion or Zaldivar. Or the inconsistent Fernando.

Do we have, today, a Resplendent, or Craven, Eleven?

Also premature of course.

All Supreme Court justices answer to history.

On March 31, 1973, six SC justices (Makalintal, Castro, Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio and Esguerra) prevailed, in ruling that “there is no further judicial obstacle to the new Constitution being considered in force and effect.” I don’t believe history has been kind to the six in letting the Siopao Constitution enter into force (in the barangay citizens assemblies of January 17, 1973, the attendees were asked “sino sa inyo ang may gusto ng siopao?” Hands raised were counted as “yes” votes).

Chief Justice Concepcion, joined in dissent by Zaldivar, Fernando and Teehankee, reportedly stopped reporting for work after March 31, 1973.

I regret that not enough importance may have been given to the on-the-ground position of the courageous IBP Lanao del Sur chapter, feet not planted firmly in midair, which denounced government abuse.

But, the NPA is a bigger fish to fry. Digong is not wrong to negotiate with it. The NPA has been with us for decades, the Muslim warriors, centuries. As JFK said, not to fear to negotiate but not to negotiate out of fear.

Release of political detainees
On negotiations, Tocayo Rene Espina’s assertion in his Bulletin column last Sunday that Cory Aquino had a secret deal with the commies (who had fought Marcos from the very start of martial law), I found astonishing. I recall our open repeated cries “Release all political detainees” –Palayain ang lahat na bilanggo ng pulitikal!”—which was a unifying slogan among all freedom fighters opposing martial law at the time. May I reassure Tocayo Senator Rene that we had no secret agreement; the release of all prisoners of conscience was one vocal battle cry and commitment of ours.

Right after Edsa 1986, Uncle Jovy Salonga and I had two meetings at Club Filipino with Manongs FVR and JPE, as members of the committee on the immediate release of detainees. (Uncle was chair; Joker Arroyo was another member but as Executive Secretary he was too busy returning the salutes of generals we had used to fight.) FVR was taciturn. JPE was passionate in opposition saying he could not “explain to my boys why those they had captured at great sacrifice would be freed.” Or words to this effect, reflective of the military’s antipathy towards commies.

My response was we’d lose all credibility if we would start by reneging on our long-time open and loud commitment to free all the freedom fighters who had dared to resist from the start, and suffered in detention.

Rene’s Nacionalistas were in bed with Macoy from 1972 and 1980, which latter year was when Sen. Tanny Tañada, Juan T. David and I visited gutsy Erik, Rene’s son, in a military camp, one late night. We boycotted the 1980 elections in protest against the cheating in the 1978 polls. Erik, a fellow Bedan who was, as I understood it, student council head, was campaigning for boycott. Arrested, Erik & Co. we visited in the dead of night in either Crame or Aguinaldo.

The Liberal Party, led by Gerry Roxas and Uncle Jovy, had fought martial law from the beginning. Rene’s Nacionalista Party was in bed with Macoy from 1972 to 1980, with hormones raging, before they broke up.

Today, Senator Espina must be as dumbfounded as I to read that the Commission on Audit had found the present Senate not using its toilet paper enough, as it were. Hmmmm. No wonder.

Anyway, Rene is from Cebu. “Island in the Pacific” is said to have done wonders for Cebu; can we be creative and adapt/plagiarize a bit and use “Islands in the Pacific?” Or Harry Belafonte’s “Islands in the Sun?” DoT: no charge.

Don’t rule out negotiations
Farther down south, Muslim rebels are all over Mindanao. NPAs, all over the country, compared to 80 Mautes reportedly remaining in Marawi.

No, negotiations with brother Filipinos cannot be apodictically ruled out. Maybe lawyers can help. Digong is a lawyer but he may need the likes of James Donovan (Tom Hanks), the civilian corporate lawyer who deftly negotiated the release of Gary Powers and Frederic Pryor in Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies”. (Not “Bridge of Sighs,” which we seem to have in more than one part of the country, due to disasters, natural and manmade.) Hanks was honored this week by the US National Archives Foundation partly for his compelling performance in “Bridge of Spies,” among other films.

The Kanos and Russkies keep talking. Trump and Putin just met and have varying war stories of how it had gone.

In Digong’s second year, he should make certain course corrections. Beginning with his bastos vocabulary, which does nothing positive for our image and raising our children. No need either to give in to some anthropophagic urge to eat human liver. Will such weird bent or taste improve tourism?

Has the military done anything in Marawi it could not have done without ML? Now Super-Sipsip Speaker Bebot Alvarez suggests ML till the end of time, Digong’s, i.e., 2022, unless he again apes idol Macoy and goes on and on. Susmariano!

Time to go north, not south.

On another front, I was at the NCAA opening last Sunday. Battle field was the MOA Arena. Bedan Jay Ignacio, a Bedan fan-atic assured me last week that 2017 would be a walk in the park. Was I in near-shock when in the fourth quarter San Sebastian was ahead, until a late blitz mowed down the gallant Stags. I would have been catatonic otherwise. Intelligence on the opposition we must have gotten from some general?

At halftime, I got a copy of a souvenir program edited by our fellow Times columnist Jude Roque (sports section). I learned there that Coach Boyet Fernandez and I share being alums of the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, in Bacolod, where I had my freshman law, after my AB in San Beda, where I returned for the course balance.

I don’t remember my parents riding shotgun in our studies and choices of profession. They just let us be.

Anyway, our win last Sunday was kinda ugly but I—a sore winner— took it. I wore a Golden Warriors cap sent by a brod from San Fran. That was the first and last time I would wear it.

I had with me in the MOA arena a new book (2017), to read during breaks: a Dorothy Day bio, The World Will be Saved by Beauty [Dostoyevski] – An Intimate Portrait of My Grandmother, by Kate Hennesy. Catholic convert Dorothy committed many sins and indiscretions but with heart in the right place, for the poor, and may in fact be canonized. “Entertaining Angels” is a movie about this founder of the Catholic Worker movement. She converted at 30, after a bohemian background.

There’s hope for everyone then, Digong not excluded.

Would that we may not keep going south in so many respects, beginning with traffic, far worse than a year ago, on which he has said and done nothing, from where I sit. Absolutely.

But, if Dostoyevski is right on Beauty, we are saved. Just look around. Start with my apos. Fruit does not fall far from the tree.

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