MANILA, September 2, 2003 (STAR) ROSES AND THORNS By Alejandro R. Roces  - Last Friday, Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes announced his re-signation and warned the nation that a well-funded plot is brewing to bring down the Arroyo administration. Yesterday, President Arroyo, who assumed the portfolio of National Defense, called on Filipinos to be vigilant and support her in her efforts against dissident elements. There are indications that this destabilization plot may start as early as today and we agree with both resigned Defense Secretary Reyes and President Arroyo that the present administration can more than handle the situation.

The important thing is that the people must be vigilant today. Whenever there are street demonstrations, the real danger lies with the terrorists who infiltrate to make sure that they degenerate into violence. The good thing about the Oakwood mutiny was that no single person got hurt or killed and there was no destruction of property, public or private.

We have a great tradition for peaceful rallies. The People’s Power Revolution had no world precedent. But now global terrorists are a problem and they may easily use peaceful demonstrations to achieve their destructive goals.

The big issue facing the country today is the Pidal account. Clearly it is an issue that can only be resolved in court and there is absolutely no person or group that is against having it resolved in court. It is not an issue that can be decided by any military sector or anti-administration group. The courts must establish, first, if there is a Pidal account? Who is using the name Jose Pidal? What amount is involved? We are sure that all the major parties involved in this controversy will agree to have these questions answered in court. As it is now, there is already a person claiming the account. The important thing is to establish the truth of the proper court of law. Once presented in court, the money can be frozen till the case is settled.

The person who should present this matter to court is none other than Sen. Panfilo Lacson. Why doesn’t he move in that direction? He has already aired his complaint against First Gentleman Mike Arroyo in a privileged speech in the Senate and in media. Again, we request him to elevate his complaint to our courts. He and First Gentleman Mike Arroyo have both aired their respective sides of the controversy; public opinion cannot settle the question. He has accused Mike Arroyo of a criminal offense, he must present his case in court. Mike Arroyo has already presented a libel case against him. So as it is, he is the one being charged in court.

In the meantime, we ask our readers to heed President Arroyo’s call on remaining vigilant today. A simple precautionary measure that we can all take is not passing through the streets where there are mass demonstrations. But we must do what we have to do. Demonstrations should not paralyze the country. We see nothing wrong in having peaceful demonstrations. But violence should have no place in our society.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved