Yet another bizarre, poorly-planned coup attempt in the Philippines. This has basically become an annual event. In fact, it may have been a bit behind schedule.
I don’t really have the mental energy right now to wrap my head fully around this one, although it’s worth noting that one of the coup leaders was Antonio Trillanes, who was elected to the senate in May, while he was in prison for his role in a 2003 coup attempt.
And people need to ask why I find the Philippines so interesting?
There’s also an interesting quote in this story from the Inquirer, where AFP Chief of Staff General Esperon, (not someone who usually gets much love on this blog) attributes the coup to “messianic people” in the military “who think they can give solutions to the problems of the country while they cannot even solve the problems of their own [military] units.”
It immediately reminded me of a the work Guillermo O’Donnell and Phillippe C. Schmitter, scholars of transitional justice who assert that granting amnesty to the military for past human rights abuses “reinforce[s] the sense of impunity and immunity of the armed forces” and encourages a “messianic self-image” of the military as “the institution ultimately interpreting and ensuring the highest interests of the nation,” ultimately undermining any social stability that amnesty is supposed to buy.
All that aside, though, I have to admit that what is really sticking in my head is the whole hotel thing. Trying to overthrow the government by seizing a luxury hotel in a business district miles from military bases or government offices. What the fuck is that all about? It seems to be a popular tactic for (failed) coups in the Philippines. The Manila Hotel coup of 1986 comes to mind, as does Trillanes’ own 2003 Oakwood Mutiny which -- in a slight variation on the theme -- took over a luxury apartment complex.
(Credit as well to the Toronto star, for the best headline I’ve seen for this story: “Hotel coup fails; people had reservations”)
I’m really trying to figure out if this is a tactic that is used anywhere else.