The good thing about us is our capacity to keep joking

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - April 21, 2021 - 12:00am

Active and retired military officers are said to be plotting a coup against President Duterte. That is the most hilarious joke to emerge so far in this pandemic. The problem is, defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana is taking it seriously. He does not get the joke. He is not laughing. He is not lighting up a bit from the somberness of COVID.

Lorenzana has to understand that coups have long been discredited in these parts ever since a megalomaniac hijacked it to feed his own personal lusts. The idealisms that fired previous coups have been cheapened by their becoming like slot machines. In a country where one bright idea that succeeds becomes a cottage industry the next day, a coup d’état cannot but be passé unless it is just to provide comic relief on a humdrum day.

Besides, no coup d’état ever succeeds without tacit public support or at least some palpable public acquiescence. And there is simply nothing of the sort available at the moment to support such a scheme. At no time has a Philippine president been more popular than Duterte is now. And at no time has the political position to his rule been more irrelevant and weaker.

Any military caper at this time is doomed to fail. In fact, if there are indeed any plotters out there foolish enough to actually hatch a plot, it would be good for them to try it now so that they might know the limits to where folly takes them. Never mind local support because there isn't any. But if they are banking on some foreign intervention to prop up their misadventure, they better perish the thought.

America is not going to help them. Duterte may be soft on China but he nevertheless is playing the Chinese. And by engaging the Chinese, Duterte is taking that role away from the Americans, allowing them to potentially save on lives and resources and, more importantly, face. For all its bitching, America wants to keep Duterte where he is. If it really wanted to, don't you think America would not have had Duterte removed long ago?

Besides, no Philippine president has given America more business for its war industry than Duterte. Duterte is good for American business. America is not going to do anything to change that. And it will not tolerate any foolishness that will unsettle things so close to the end of Duterte's term and the next legal and democratic change of power.

While I believe no such caper is afoot, and any such talk about it being nothing more than a joke, still any off-chance that there is, all things being equal, I think it is nothing more than a few military officers having too much misplaced trust in their unproven capabilities. As to the retired fogeys, why, if they have not succeeded in winning a real war against communist terrorists, what makes them think they can in their geriatric years?

One of the greatest stumbling blocks to Philippine progress is its failure to let go of something novel. The Philippines just has to make something that succeeds initially into a never-ending fad instead of trying to break out something fresh and new. Would you believe Marcos-bashing is still a fad half a century since its birth? Or that a coup is still talked about even after that megalomaniac crashed it into his windmill? What a big fat joke on us.

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