Corporate Watch

In martial law, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos could do anything. And he focused on the military to help him do anything.
Assignment to select military and even “juicy” civilian positions could not but be equated with “bought” loyalties, in those times. The dictator positioned his most trusted men in the top headquarters posts and the special high command posts that ruled the trouble areas of Mindanao and northern Luzon. From an Armed Forces with less than 10 generals at the helm, Marcos appointed nearly a hundred generals in his martial law, and extended the commissions of those top officers who would have served the 30-year service limit and retired. In the expanded military organization ruled by a commander-in-chief who was Dictator, there was little lateral checks and balances, except for the tight-wound rule that the vertical chain of command must be observed: Everything must go up to the boss, whether it is information or money, in the Mafia’s way.
And so many of the military men became rich, though deeply mindful of their debt of gratitude to the Dictator. Heroes buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani never lived to see some of their contemporaries live in big houses outside camp, drive luxury cars, send their children to exclusive private schools, and hobnob with the rich and famous private elite. The loyalty of the military to their Commander-in-Chief was ensured by the new lifestyle and financial comfort they enjoyed. Never in their wildest dreams!
When the Dictator Marcos was ousted at the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution (with the standby protection of the military), could it be ever possible that the military’s psyche would ever go back to the status-quo-ante — in the purity and integrity of the ideals taught them in military school, and ingrained by the high expectations of society? Too late.
There were at least ten coup attempts — two found out beforehand — against President Corazon “Cory” Aquino in her six-year term from her installation after EDSA I. Hard to believe how the very officers and soldiers who fought for democracy in 1986 could turn about face within Cory’s first year, and would want to establish their own choice of government, usurping the people’s choice. What drove them? Perhaps they were nostalgic for the power and influence that the military enjoyed in Marcos’s martial law. Add that maybe at the same time they believed EDSA I could not have happened without their support — a claim most probably true — and so Cory “owed” them.
President Fidel Ramos, Chief of the PC-INP (the Philippine Constabulary and Integrated National Police) in Marcos’s time, then continuing as Chief of Staff and DND Secretary in Cory’s term, pardoned the putschists against Cory (GMA News Sept. 7, 2018). There were no coups in Ramos’s time, because Ramos was a soldier himself and Commander-in-Chief before he became President. The military, of course, identified with him and respected him and his ascendancy. Perhaps in Ramos’s time, the schizophrenic identity created in the military by Marcos — was it the supremacy of the military over the civilian, or the constitutional civilian over the military — had quietly moved into the rightful latter. What happened when Joseph Estrada, the former movie actor who was known for “pretend” bravery and “pretend” idealism, succeeded Ramos as President?
Though it would not be admitted, perhaps it can be generally surmised that the military did not have much respect for Estrada. And when Estrada was being impeached for plunder and corruption, the Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Angelo Reyes himself staged the ultimate coup d’état to finally remove their Commander-in-Chief. Estrada resigned in shame in 2001.
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who succeeded Estrada, became an honorary (adopted) member of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1978, and installed her newfound “mistahs” (classmates) in choice top positions in the military organization (GMA News Jan. 9, 2009). Perhaps Arroyo borrowed Marcos’s formula of “buying” the loyalty of the military; they were already officers in martial law, enjoying the perks — power (and wealth?) — that Marcos showered the military with. But the senior officers whom she chose to be close to her were retiring in her term. Did she underestimate the revival of strength of ideals in the younger officers and soldiers, who were little children in martial law? They had not experienced the evil manipulation of hedonic wants and desires of vulnerable military men by a dictator who cunningly swerved the definition of loyalty to the Filipino people and the Constitution to mercenary loyalty to the person who was, by the way, the Commander-in-Chief.
There were two coup attempts against Arroyo — the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Peninsula siege (Time magazine, Nov. 29, 2007). These were active protests led by the same actors, young military officers, against the corruption in the military and Arroyo’s inability to curb this. Arroyo used emergency powers to dampen any potential threat of a “people power” revolt against her administration. The leader of the plots, Lt/SG Antonio Trillanes, and 300 junior officers and enlisted men were arrested and charged. Trillanes was detained for almost seven and a half years.
Trillanes is the first Philippine senator to be elected while in jail when more than 11 million people voted him into office in May 2007. In 2010 Arroyo’s successor, President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy/PNoy” Aquino III, issued Presidential Proclamation No. 75, granting full amnesty to the 79 mutineers against Arroyo who applied for such amnesty, including Trillanes (Rappler, Sept. 04, 2018).
Never was it ever done anywhere else, the legal minds say, but by Proclamation 572, Duterte declared on Sept. 4, 2018 the amnesty granted to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV in January 2011 as void. The senator “did not comply with the minimum requirements to qualify under the Amnesty Proclamation” (, Sept. 4, 2018). A Jan. 6, 2011 report by The STAR notes, however, “Trillanes and 18 other Magdalo officers submitted their application forms to the Department of National Defense Ad Hoc Amnesty Committee at about 2 p.m. in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City (Ibid.)”
The revocation of amnesty cannot just be based on technicalities of submission, all shocked reactions say. But the President (in absentia — he was on official visits abroad) has ordered the Department of Justice and court martial of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to pursue all criminal and administrative cases filed against Trillanes in connection with the Oakwood Mutiny in 2003 and the Manila Peninsula siege in 2007 (Ibid.). Double jeopardy?
Common perception is perhaps as Reuters notes: “Antonio Trillanes, Duterte’s most vocal opponent, has accused him (Duterte) of hiding wealth, and has supported petitions to the International Criminal Court (ICC) seeking his indictment over the alleged murders of thousands of suspected criminals and drug dealers” (Reuters Sept. 4, 2018).
Duterte, a known Marcos fan, must be conveying a message to the military by this attack on his most vocal critic — while subliminally warning against “military adventurism” that Trillanes has been accused of, by his coups against Arroyo (also Duterte’s ally): “Remember, I, Duterte, am your Commander-in-Chief, and you should be loyal to me.”
Does he think he has bought the military, with pay increases and a lot of flattery and recognition, power and influence, like Marcos the dictator had done, in martial law?
Amelia H. C. Ylagan is a Doctor of Business Administration from the University of the Philippines.