Friday, December 30, 2005

National Security is the Highest National Interest

EVERY SERIOUS NATION in the world believes in the literal truth of this principle. National Security is to the State in the Public Sector what personal security and survival are to the citizens in the private sector. Thus, in every serious nation-state, if it were to be reported one day that its President or Prime Minister had been wiretapped by a rogue operation from within its own Military's intelligence services and that various conversations were secretly recorded for questionable purposes, there would surely follow a swift investigation, and many reports of the subsequent discoveries and exposures of the perpetrators. Strangely enough, that is not what happened here, but this is the Philippine Archipelago so look for no logic in the events less subtle than pure magic.

THE WONDER OF GLORIAGATE The unblinking eye of TELEVISION has amazingly preserved for posterity the very moment of birth of the devastating Gloriagate political crisis that has engulfed the Archipelago. More than six months have passed since the existence of ILLEGALLY RECORDED AND WIRETAPPED conversations allegedly involving high government officials were made public by no less than Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye during a Palace Press Briefing on Start of Gloriagate: 6 June 2005. Yet there is still NO OFFICIAL EXPLANATION from the Government of who might have produced the the Garci Recordings (with their suggestive conversations that have entered into the public domain of indignation as the Garci Tapes. ) Neither has the Palace advanced even a Wild Conjecture or shown the Mildest Curiosity about who wiretapped the Commander-in-Chief and Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano in 2004. None. ZIP. Nada! There is no Special Commission or Task Force from the Palace to investigate what would otherwise be an outrageous breach of National Security at the highest levels, in some other less heedless and not-headless countries. Thus, an inescapable conclusion come to even by those who want to support President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is this:

The failure to discover who perpetrated the national security breaches of wiretapping the Commander in Chief in 2004 was from an intentional lack of trying.

Greater attention is now being paid to the NATIONAL SECURITY implications of Gloriagate. Well it should for in Gloriagate, all were witness to the failure by the highest levels of the Filipino political and military leadership to uphold the basic Principles of National Security such as the simple integrity and confidentiality of Presidential communications. Six months after the Garci recordings were made public by no other than Palace spokesman Ignacio Bunye, there is no official explanation or theory of how the Garci recordings came into existence. They are declared repeatedly by Palace consiglieri to be POISON FRUITS, yet the TREE which bore them is not granted an iota of the President's curiosity nor is any explanation offered of who made the Garci recordings and why.

CORPUS DELICTI: The failure of the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Justice to discover and punish whoever produced the original Garci Recordings is a monumental and telling DERELICTION OF DUTY. Not to investigate with any convincing effort, not to discover and expose the wiretappers who recorded the Garci conversations -- this long-running INACTION seems to reasonable men to be EVIDENCE of something rotten at the core of the state of Denmark-upon-the-Pasig River. Grave offenses against national security have plausibly been committed but this is being officially ignored and their perpetrators are not being investigated. I think the physicial existence of the Garci recordings is evidence of grave offenses against National Security -- specifically the security of the communications and spoken words of the Commander-in-Chief.

If the recent testimony deposed and given credence in by the Senate President Frank Drilon and its Defense Committee Chairman Rodolfo Biazon, is to be believed, the Garci tapes are the very CORPUS DELICTI of treasonous crimes prostituting the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine military to partisan political purposes. No matter what the conversations were about, recording the conversations of the President and a Constitutional Officer such as Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano without a Court Order was illegal under Section (1A) and Section (3) of Republic Act 4200, Lorenzo M. Tanada's 1965 Anti Wire Tapping Law.

So I am sad to respectfully report at year-end 2005, my considered opinion that the Philippine President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, has failed to exercise the highest duty of her nearly omnipotent office -- which is to uphold the Principle of National Security above all private and personal interests -- especially her own. That the President has not seriously and faithfully executed the duties of her high office are evidenced by acts of omission. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has been DERELICT IN HER DUTY.

There is no area of human activity in which both National and Personal Security interests intersect with more clarity than in the area of COMMUNICATIONS, whose security is guaranteed and enshrined in the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution:
Section 3. (1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law.
In Philippine legal history, the most cogent prescriptions by law on the EXCEPTIONS implied in the above Constitutional provision are found in Republic Act 4200 (Sen. Lorenzo M. Tanada's 1965 Anti Wiretapping Law). The Right to Privacy and the Right of the Public to Know In studying RA 4200, I've discovered what appears to be a blindspot about National Security in the Filipino national psyche -- as revealed in the devastating political crisis called GLORIAGATE -- the BIGGEST NEWS of the Philippine Archipelago in 2005 -- Like hurricanes in America, the destructive path of Typhoon Gloriagate through the democratic institutions and traditions of post-Marcos Philippine society apparently moved independent NGO Freedom House to downgrade the Philippines to Partly Free status among the world's nations. In its 2006 Global Survey - Freedom in the World (PDF) Arch Puddington writes --
Only four countries registered an outright decline in status. Here the most significant development was the downgrading of the Philippines from Free to Partly Free, a decision based on credible allegations of massive electoral fraud, corruption, and the government’s intimidation of elements in the political opposition.
I think that the Freedom House designation of the Philippines as Partly Free offers vindication and moral support to the professional journalistic efforts at uncovering the truth, the whole truth and something of the truth in the work of such outfits as the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. This is affirmation of the value of their work from a strong voice in global civil society. Throughout the Gloriagate controversy PCIJ and its blog have been the most reliable source of hard information, such as verbatim statements by participants in news events, MP3s of the Garci recordings and its variations, as well as transcripts and other source material relevant to the unfolding Gloriagate crisis. PCIJ recently triumphed over blatant government attempts to suppress its online publications using a libel case filed by an asset of Mike Defensor, the shadowy Jonathan Tiongco.

WISHFUL THINKING: Given everything that has transpired in Gloriagate, it is wishful thinking on the part President Arroyo and her Palace advisers, to hope that upright and decent folks, who can afford to uphold their principles as much as she can, who are her very equals in intellect and patriotism, will simply forget about Gloriagate and Garci and EO464 and JocJoc and the rest of the whole sordid mess, and somehow get back to "the economy." Ironically, the most important bit of the economy the government should be concerned about -- the 2006 BUDGET -- will probably be the subject of the First Quarter Storm's gridlock wrestling matches with the Congress and the Senate.

APPLE OF DISCORD: As for politics, the Mischievous Mind in the Palace melange of brainy divines has decided to throw in a Poisoned Apple of Discord into the already dangerous brew of emotions, ambitions, factions and agenda that Gloriagate has produced under cover of Christmas-- "Let there be no elections in 2007 and everyone gets three more years in office!" the Consultative Commission on Charter Change led by Jose Abueva, bleats, in its Transitory Provisions.

Paranaque Rep. ROILO GOLEZ calls this latest move of the Palace an "act of naked bribery," and others, "an indecent proposal." If it comes to pass, I can already see Freedom House's 2008 Global Survey item on the Philippines:


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