Saturday, February 12, 2011

Touting Social Media's role in toppling Egypt's Mubarak

There is a failure of analysis here somewhere.

Computerworld - As Egypt's embattled President Hosni Mubarak gave up his presidency Friday, analysts and some of the Egyptian protestors said he'd still be in charge if not for the power of social networking. 
After 18 days of tumultuous protests and stubborn refusals to leave a position he's held for 30 years, Mubarakgave up power today, handing over authority to the nation's military leaders. During a time of unrest that saw Mubarak's regime disconnect Egypt from the Internet for several days, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter served as critical tools for the people seeking to topple the long-time ruler. 
President Barack Obama this afternoon noted the role of technology in the uprising, praising Egyptians who used "their creativity, talent and technology to call for a government that represented their hopes and not their fears." 
"I certainly do not think he would have left office at this point if it wasn't for social networking tools," said Brad Shimmin, principal analyst with Current Analysis. "I think they wanted all eyes to be turned away from the uprising, but the crackdowns on Internet access failed. 
"Because of that, Mubarak and his regime felt they had no other choice than to step down."
Here's the thing, not all the Tweeting and Facebooking in the world will force a dictator to abandon his throne.

It is the loss of the power to wield 'real force' (an army, for example) that forces dictators to skedaddle and vamoose.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Former Armed Forces Chief of Staff and Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes commits suicide

Photo sourced from @daphneop
The news of the apparent suicide of former AFP Chief of Staff and Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes fell on me like a ton of bricks this morning.

Former Armed Forces Chief and Defense Secretary Angelo Tomas Reyes on Tuesday morning committed suicide by shooting himself in front of the grave of his mother at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City. 
He was 65. 
A close friend of Reyes called the Philippine Daily Inquirer to break the news, while Colonel Boogie De Leon, a former administrative officer of Reyes when he was AFP chief, said Reyes was rushed to the Quirino Hospital at about 7:45 a.m. to revive him. Members of his family could not be reached for comment. 
De Leon said that Reyes’s son Jett called him up to inform him of the incident.
Reyes, who earlier suffered a mild stroke before the congressional investigations on the alleged AFP financial irregularities, said he could not take anymore the smear campaign against his name and his family. 
“Not my family,” he said. 
Reyes, who loved his mother very much when she was still alive, earlier told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an interview that he would never do anything that would besmirch the name of “my good mother.”

Having just recently been exposed in a senate hearing for receiving a P50 Million pabaon and allowances amounting to P 5 million a month, Reyes was subjected to questioning by Senator Jinggoy Estrada -- the son of ousted President Joseph Estrada.

People had remarked that while the Senate Inquiry was supposed to be about former AFP Comptroller Carlos Garcia's plea bargain deal, Sen. Estrada honed in on allegations by whistle-blower Colonel Rabusa.  Rabusa testified that Reyes received P 50 Million when he retired as AFP Chief and prior to that received P5million in allowances.

The thing is, Secretary Reyes was among the military leaders who withdrew their support from President Joseph Estrada during what is now called EDSA Dos.  Estrada, who faced the impeachment process arising from the whistleblowing of Chavit Singson -- who revealed that Estrada received hundreds of millions in Jueteng Payola.  Numerous witnesses were called to testify to the funds being received by Estrada and a paper trail was uncovered.

Years later, Estrada was pardoned after conviction -- without being required to admit to any of the charges filed against him.  This pardon even allowed him to run for President in 2010.

Estrada was held in house arrest along with his son Jinggoy Estrada.

Secretary Reyes, had a rags to ranks story.  Here is an entry from the Wikipedia:
Angie spent most of his child days in San Miguel, Manila. He completed his secondary schooling at the Cubao High School in 1960 where he graduated as the class valedictorian. In 1966, he was among the top ten graduates of the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City. He then proceeded to acquire two masteral degrees, namely: Masters in Business Administration from Asian Institute of Management in 1973 and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1991. He also took up International Defense Management Course in Monterey, California in 1983. And in 1987, he graduated No. 1 in Trust Operations Management Course conducted by the Trust Institutes Foundation of the Philippines at the Ateneo Business School which eventually earned him a scholarship to the Northeastern University in Chicago, Illinois.
At the time of the recent Congressional hearings on the Garcia Plunder case and plea bargain, Reyes was not convicted of any of the charges alleged against him.

I met Reyes several times in 2009 and 2010.  He seemed to be a kind man and quite a good  conversationalist.  I read a number of his profiles and I have to say that I can't help admire his climb rise through the military hierarchy.

Unlike politicians who rise in power through dubious political means and largely by tricking people into voting for them, military men rise in rank mostly by merit.

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