early on in the trillanes-lim stand-off at the manila pen, when i saw on anc how the pnp-swat forces were quickly surrounding the hotel, i knew for sure that trillanes and lim didn’t have a chance. there was no way people would come to show their support and shield them from bullets a la edsa one, simply because naunahan na sila ng pulis. it only worked for enrile and ramos in ’86 because marcos and ver refused to take the threat seriously that first night, thinking that the defectors could be talked out of it. if they had sicced the military on camp aguinaldo right after that saturday night presscon, when there were no real crowds yet to speak of, then there would have been no edsa one to speak of either (and no edsa dos and tres) because the rebels, who didn’t have the numbers, would have been wiped out.
as for the people, i have no doubt (even if the media do, forever asking why few people came to support trillanes et al, wittingly or unwittingly lending credence to government propaganda that people are bored and done with extraconstitutional edsa-like actions) that, given time and adequate information, trillanes et al would have been able to muster enough support from some of the 11 million who voted for him in the may 2007 elections.
information is critical. in ’86 the critical mass of people didn’t start marching out to edsa upon hearing of the enrile-ramos defection. first they sat down and listened closely to the replays of the presscon on radio, made sure that enrile really said that cory was cheated of some 300,000 or so votes in cagayan and that they were prepared to support cory if that was the will of the people. then they listened to justice cecilia munoz palma on radio veritas declaring support for the rebels; then they listened to butz aquino calling for people to march to edsa, promising non-violent action a la cory’s civil disobedience campaign; then to cardinal sin telling them it was all right to support the rebels, they are our friends, they have no food. then they sat through marcos’s televised midnight presscons, when he accused the duo of plotting a coup with military reformists to topple him and replace him with a junta. and then the people slept on it. the next day, first thing sunday morning, they marched to edsa, hopeful of winning for cory the support of the rebel military.
but as in the oakwood caper in 2003, trillanes neither had the time nor the inclination to be transparent/informative, expecting people to take him on his word (and maybe face value). sorry, no dice. if there’s anything that thinking people have learned from edsa one and two, it is that we can’t trust in motherhood statements that can always, eventually, inevitably, be bent this way and that to preserve the status quo.
trillanes and his ilk simply have to get more creative. as creative as the arroyos and the generals were in building an impeachment case against erap in 2000. the impeachment strategy no longer works, as we all know, but neither does, and never has, the fivestar hotel strategy.
and so, watching that scene at the pen over late lunch, i was thinking that the only way trillanes and lim and the magdalo could come out of it winners was if they were prepared this time to fight to the death. they should have shooed away the media people who were only there for a scoop (such as ces drilon? pinky webb?) and allowed only people who were prepared to die with them (like bibeth orteza, maybe dodong nemenzo, teofisto guingona?). only their deaths at the hands of gma’s loyalists could have truly rocked the boat, raised a stink, challenged the status quo, upset gma’s applecart, and shown her up for the pseudo-democratic tyrant that she really is.
when ninoy came home in ’83, prepared for the worst, he was moved by, and armed only with, ghandi’s wisdom: that
“…of all the responses of God and man to oppression, nothing is more effective than the sacrifice of the innocent.”