29 July 2003

Asia Times - The day irony failed:
During the predawn hours in Manila on�Sunday, disgruntled junior officers of the Philippine armed forces seized a shopping and residential complex in the fashionable Makati district. Their act not only spotlighted the soldiers' grievances against the regime of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but it focused attention on how badly the sense of irony fails today's leaders, news media, and, apparently, those of us who abet and tolerate those failures.

The 20-hour standoff brought an outpouring of endorsements for the loyalists. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer expressed his nation's support for the 'democratically elected government of the president of the Philippines'.

That declaration must've come as quite a shock to Joseph Estrada, winner of the Philippines' most recent presidential election, in his prison cell, particularly given Australia's previous reticence regarding Estrada's two-and-a-half-year confinement.

Similarly, Singapore's Foreign Ministry declared, 'The resort to unconstitutional means by the rebels is unacceptable.' That statement would have been far more apt at the time of the 'People Power II' demonstrations and military maneuvers against Estrada, such as fighter jets buzzing Malacanang Palace, that brought Arroyo to the presidency. Those events also confirmed that following the constitution is hardly a reliable path to power in the Philippines: of the country's last five presidents, only Fidel Ramos entered office via election and left at the end of his legal term. "

I'd count President Aquino among those elected to office but the point is well-made. Thailand and South Korea have got past the coup as the sole method of changing government or even proposing reforms.

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