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Of Velvet Moons And Banana Republics (UPDATED)

June 29, 2009

velvet moon pma banana republic montageThe Chinese August or Velvet Moon Festival ordinarily evokes childhood excitement for me, particular one of enjoying gastronomic pleasures of the Chinese kind featuring the multiple-filling, tummy-filling Moon Cake, that bready hopia that come in various varieties in special wrappings and air-tight tin cans.

But if we are to believe media reports being attributed to anonymous sources, a different Velvet MoonFest is supposedly being molded, a plot that could turn the Philippines into a Banana Republic, a republic in the mold of Latin America’s military junta-ruled societies.

I am not one to immediately give credence to such reports absent confirmation from two or more reliable sources.

This is because the report specifically implicates retired star-rank personalities whose management expertise has been tapped by Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

pma class 78 generals

Here’s how the opposition-leaning Daily Tribune is narrating it:

Oplan August Moon seeks Gloria perpetuity

By Mario J. Mallari
A velvet coup plot, dubbed Operation Plan August Moon, which is aimed at perpetuating President Arroyo in power beyond 2010 by placing generals loyal to her in key military and police posts is in place, concerned members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said yesterday.
Oplan August Moon, sources claimed, would benefit members of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) class of 1978 which includes Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit, commanding general of the 70,000-strong Philippine Army, and has President Arroyo as honorary member.
In the alleged plot, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Victor Ibrado would become the “collateral damage” as the group would push Bangit as replacement for the incumbent military chief.
“The plotters target October as the finale of the three-month campaign wherein Bangit would replace General Ibrado…other key posts would be given to other members of the PMA Class of 1978,” a source said.
Oplan August Moon was inspired by the Chinese’s Moon Festival, a popular harvest festivities started during the Shang Dynasty 3,000 years ago.
Other members of the PMA Class of 1978 occupying key positions in the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) are Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Chief Supt. Roberto Rosales and Intelligence Service of the AFP (Isafp) chief Maj. Gen. Romeo Preztosa.
The AFP leadership, however, has maintained that all promotions to key positions in the military go through the rigid selection process being conducted by the board of generals.
Almost the same scenario was earlier exposed by Nueva Ecija Rep. Edno Joson who expressed belief that President Arroyo is conniving with PMA Class of 1978 in pushing the constitutional amendment through constituent assembly (con-ass). Joson’s view came following the passage of Resolution 1109 before the House of Representatives by allies of the Arroyo administration.
Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner, AFP spokesman, however, yesterday quickly dismissed the supposed plot as non-existent as he maintained the AFP is professional.
“As far as the AFP is concerned, Oplan August Moon does not exist,” said Brawner.
“Moreover, there are no dissenters among the ranks of the AFP other than those who are already in detention,” Brawner further said.
Another military source branded the plot as another desperate move by the Arroyo administration to remain in power.
“Whatever it takes just to remain in power beyond 2010,” the source said.
Retired Commodore and military critic Rex Robles slammed the plan: “This violates the existing policy of the military which prohibits you from being reassigned one year before you retire.’’
“The military leadership should do something about this. These officers should retire properly,’’ he said.
The plot is anchored on perpetuating the Arroyo administration to stay in power beyond 2010. The President is an adopted member of Class 78.
Joson earlier raised possibility that the influential Class 78 is exploiting current political developments, including the revival of Dacer-Corbito double murder case.
“A disgruntled military will mean all kinds of trouble in our country,” he said in a text message.
Militant Gabriela Women’s Group Rep. Liza Maza said shared Joson’s view that Class ’78 is a “powerful instrument” in manipulating and twisting the country’s history.
Earlier, Senators are convinced that members of the favored Class 78 are bent on pushing Charter Change through constitutional assembly.
Sen. Roldofo Biazon had warned that he feels varying levels of “emotional involvement” among soldiers.
Opposition stalwart Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., said members of Class 78 occupy juicy posts in the military.
Bishop Deogracias Yniguez of Caloocan cautioned that the “will of the people should prevail” and hopes that members of Class 78 will not allow themselves “to be used.”
Explained Yniguez. “The danger signals are already beginning to appear. There is now a wide spread expression of opposition to the measure and there is a growing restlessness among significant sectors who are calling for action to defeat this obvious attempt to take a short cut to change the fundamental law.”
Rep. Erin Tañada believes that PMA Class ’78 should “stay away from politics” as the military should remain apolitical.
Sources at Camp Aguinaldo said “a number of soldiers have joined the swelling ranks of dissenters in the AFP.”
The same sources detailed possible scenarios that might happen should President Arroyo insist on using the military, particularly members of Class 78, in pushing Charter Change.
Bangit became famous when, as intelligence chief, he threw P500 bills, during the Christmas party of the Intelligence Service of the AFP in 2006.
Intelligence officers said “emperor” is their code name for Bangit, who also headed the Presidential Security Group.

We only have a little over 10 months left before the elections.
Let not any extra-legal adventurism lay to waste our democracy for this supposed plot to extend one person’s hold on power.

Remember well the truism:

“He who rides the tiger not knowing how to get off gets eaten instead.”


Speaking of Banana republics, my good friend, Patricio Mangubat, blogging at New Philippine Revolution, has periscoped the apparent Court-sanctioned ouster of the president of Honduras.

Patricio notes the parallels in our political situation to that of Honduras:

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