Saturday, June 11, 2005

Sun Tzu tells Gloria, "Intelligence is the key."

The situation after former NBI deputy director Samuel Ong came out yesterday is about to turn ugly. The EDSA tables are about to be turned against President Arroyo. She would be the center of attention for the next few days, and she better handle this crisis well or else she, husband Mike, son Mikey, and brother in law Iggy, might end up as Erap's cellmates. As Samuel Ong holes himself up in San Carlos Seminary and the FPJ and Erap crowds pounce on this catalyctic event, what would it be like to be in the Gloria crisis team? Let's imagine that Sun Tzu is alive, and he is in the head of the Gloriagate crisis team. What would he be saying? Of course, I am not a member of this team, and my purpose for this blog entry or series of blog entries is completely academic. Blog away Master Sun.

Sun Tzu says, "Know your enemy, know yourself and your victory will not be threatened. Know the terrain, know the weather and your victory will be complete."

What was Erap's worst mistake during EDSA II? He didn't check on the loyalties of his men constantly. He thought he had their loyalities all the time, especially Angie Reyes, then the AFP Chief of Staff and Orly Mercado, Erap's defense chief. He didn't know that his people were already in talks with the EDSA II leaders, and that their morale was low. It was just a matter of time then that Erap's favorite general and equally-trusted secretary of defense would turn against him in his hour of crisis. How can GMA avoid making the same mistake?

Intelligence is the key. As the crisis unfolds, the President should have all relevant information about this crisis at a touch of a button. And she should make sure that every information fed to her is reliable. In addition, remember what Tom Hagan, Vito Corleone's consiglieri in the Godfather said about bad news? The Godfather wants to hear bad news immediately. Thus, the President should tell her staff to seek adverse information and bring it up to her as soon as possible. Favorable information is okay, but it is adverse information that germinates into serious trouble. What would have happened if Erap got a tip about that meeting and was able to stop Angelo Reyes from meeting his fellow generals in that Corinthian Gardens house before Angelo Reyes and the rest of the cavalry broke away from Erap? If you're the President and you can't do a simple thing such as that, you deserve to be ousted. As in Mario Puzo's Godfather, so shall it be in this crisis. Bad news should be brought to the President's attention immediately.

Ideally, the President should have a map of the social forces in play during this crisis: the military, the church, the civil society, mass media, the local governments, the judiciary, and the legislature. Imagine a big screen with the an icon representing each social force. All those in green are hers. All those in red are enemies, and all those in white are shaky. If she has this information, every moment, then all she has to do is make sure that the screen is dominated by green. She should check their loyalties constantly. The green ones should remain green. The whites should be completely won over and turned green. And the reds, should be guarded constantly. She should make sure they don't win over the greens and the whites.

If GMA has this information on hand right now, only then can she truly claim that the situation is under control. Thus, before this whole thing elevates to a higher and more complicated level, the intelligence network of GMA should be firmly in place for her to be able know all these things all at once at any time while the crisis is ensuing. A failure of intelligence can lead to a bad decision. And bad decisions will bring defeat. Intelligence is the foundation of victory. Intelligence is the key.

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