How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?
Charles De Gaulle, in “Les Mots du General”, 1962
French general & politician (1890 – 1970)
Whether we like it or not, FVR is a tempting alternative.
The Cory years, 1986-1992, gave us a glimpse of the sterner stuff of Ramos. Of course his pivotal role in the EDSA revolt was his transfiguration, from Marcos military wimp predisposed to field reports into a riveting leader for national salvation.
General Charles de Gaulle approximates Ramos’ unique position in our history.
The French looked up to de Gaulle as the unifying force of their nation. “His strength has been his appeal for unity against a common enemy- in 1940, Germany; in 1958, subversion and civil disorder.” After World War 2, France lay in ruins. The daunting task of reconstruction lies ahead. Contending political groups bickered and the cost was national disunion. Soon after the war, he headed two successive provisional governments. Disillusioned with the culture of traditional political parties, he resigned in 1946.
After leaving the government, a new constitution was in place which de Gaulle opposed and worked for its replacement. After the Free French Forces which he founded during the war, he organized a new political party with a handful of amateur politicians, Rally of the French People. The main agenda of RFP was the scrapping of the then current constitution in favour of a new one embodying de Gaulle’s vision for France. RFP became a major political force managing to elect 120 deputies in the National Assembly in 1951. De Gaulle dissociated himself from RFP however in 1953, and in 1955 the political party he founded was disbanded. Civil disorder was in the air, but de Gaulle was in the public perception as the messiah for peace and unity. Careful not to grab power thru a military coup, de Gaulle orchestrated his minions to push for a new Constitution. He was successful and in June 1958 became France’s new Prime Minister under the 1958 Constitution freshly approved by the French people in a referendum called for the purpose. Under its transitory provision, de Gaulle was its first elected President with a 7-year term and eligible for a second re-election.
De Gaulle did not want his name associated with any politician or political group. He forbade the use of his name even as an adjective descriptive of a candidate or political party. He impressed his people that he was above the fray, beyond the nursery rhymes. He was into the serious business of reconstructing the state.
Fast tracked to 2005 and transplanted to a third world country, de Gaulle’s stratagem fascinatingly looked familiar from the way FVR moves. With ragtag followers, he founded Lakas-Tao. Over the years the party grew into a formidable political force attracting opportunist politicians from Mitra’s Lapian Ng Demokratikong Pilipino, Liberal Party, Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition, etc. During the 1995 mid-term elections, the free zones were invented, pitting fellow Lakas against another Lakas member. In the dying days of his term, aware that he could no longer run for re-election, he toyed with the idea of overhauling the Cory Constitution. Cory and Cardinal Sin stopped FVR on his tracks. During golf games, reporters asked him about his handicap and he invariably in good humour replies, “the 1987 Constitution”. He was in effect telling us that he has an unfinished business. “Look what you’ve done. Had you allowed me to tinker with the Constitution in 1998 and gave me a second shot at the presidency or as prime minister in a parliamentary set up, you didn’t end up with an Erap and on to economic progress via my Vision 2000!”
In 1992, millions of others including Cory Aquino believed then that Ramos was the answer against the unbelievable succession of coups. FVR proved us right. Incidentally he righted the frequent brownouts and gave us the unrenegotiated IPPs.
GMA’s dilemma is fodder to FVR’s blueprint for seizing power anew. The discredited opposition on the other hand is simply ideal for the ex-president. Ka Roger and a slew of NPA fronts are having grand balls before the media lambasting what they perceived as the killing sprees of General Palparan. The Cory-Drilon group he knows has lost its magic. The religious are nothing but unproductive zealots out to get the last tithing from the people. The Iglesia ni Cristo is busy avenging the damage done by Ely Soriano. The Binay-Escudero-Rez Cortez kindergarten gang approximates the EDSA 3 melee.
The opposition known for its rapacity while in power does not create a dent in the people’s imagination. FVR knows that the people simply are aghast at the intramurals of these leaders-dregs wrangling on what he termed during his incumbency as the “culture of political patronage”. All the opposition wants is a chance to ride the power merry-go-round.
FVR was often out of the country spewing motherhood statements about his national architecture of unity and its concomitant economic foundations. Upon arrival he evades questions about his continued support to GMA.
While abroad, Ramos leaves instructions to his senile subalterns to create noise. He tells them to go harangue GMA and her cronies knowing full well that an 80-year old tirades or seditions do not count. He makes sure he is beyond de Venecia’s and the Gang of Four’s racket. His pipeline to GMA’s inner sanctum is provided by General Ermita. FVR has the best of the solar system!
GMA lives by the day. She squirms by the mere mention of Ramos’ name and is painfully reminded every time she sees General Ermita. She tries to counter-strategize like when she offered Ramos a pechay enchilada. This was thought of to entice the famished congressmen of additional pork. By changing the Speaker, the “cut term” agenda loses gas. But Ramos is big on intelligence. The counter-move of challenging Joe the Cheshire cat bombed and apologies were profuse from Malacanang’s end. With the image of Ramos looming large, the authorship of the phone tapping materializes. The wiretapping is one piece of the jigsaw puzzle.
Nonetheless the people are reminded of the electric discordance in the air that sooner or later must be put off.
In the meanwhile the Constitutional Commission was in frenzy churning out constitutional proposals that shall consist of the 99% of the next Charter. The remaining 1% is all about the elections in 2007. The Ramos clones in the Con-Com, the Pedrozas, spearheaded the no-election proviso to deflect focus on the shift of government shape. They were successful as the gullible politicians picked it up and challenged everybody to an intelligent debate on the wisdom of no elections! As sure as the sun rises from the East, there will be parliamentary elections in 2007. The new constitution shall be up for approval simultaneous with the elections. The recalcitrant senators shall toe the line once the inevitable Ramos spectre rose from the Senate door.
Ramos is now doing a Charles De Gaulle. His dilemma however is in the doing. Shall he await the approval of the new constitution or shall he seize power via extra-constitutional means? Time is running out. Ramos is 78 and De Gaulle died at the age of 80.
If Ramos does not move, history would be unkind to him.
Ramos has to seize power by whatever means. He is the right person at the moment. He must do a combination of General Pervez Mussharaf, Alberto Fujimori, Lee Kuan Yew, and Charles De Gaulle. While largely the lessons on France on De Gaulle’s time are instructive, Ramos has to be flexible in approaching our peculiar landscape. In 2006 we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the EDSA uprising. Still we find ourselves in square one. It is Ramos duty to wind up his business.
GMA has lost her effectiveness as a leader. She is merely coasting along and time is of the essence. In the 21st century, gauging the mettle of a leader, greatness belongs to the swift or we shall be left behind. In a matter of five years, cities sprout in China. In the same manner, Ramos could do so much in three or six years. If the Con-Com could draft a proposed charter in a matter of three months, we do not see any reason why an interim strong man in the Ramos mould could not draw strong-medicine decrees. Cromwells spring out of chaos. The current generation loses out in the competition as their lives are unnecessarily fettered to the selfishness of the present leaders. There is no room for “business as usual”. The ravenous congressmen must be figuratively shot against the wall. Thanks to this slothful bunch, a great number of our people have no access to health and education. These are crucial policies that would make or break us as a nation in the next decades. Since our great resource is our people investments for their well being is the right direction.
So, how can you govern a country with a thousand varieties of kalamay?