Coup fatigue

I walked into work Friday afternoon, still not quite back in my work groove after a month of travel. I plopped down at a desk next to a desk editor. After a bit of small talk about my trip, I asked her what the big news has been lately.

“This whole coup thing,” she said.

Uh. What coup thing? Since I got back Tuesday night, I had been doing my best to catch up on the tangle of political news I had missed while riding trains and buses in India. I had already been brought up to speed on a story about four soldiers involved in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny who had escaped from Fort Bonifacio. But I hadn’t heard anything about a coup.

“Oh, you know, there’s another rumor about another coup. It’ll either happen tonight or tomorrow,” she said, seeming a bit bored by the whole situation.

“The escaped soldiers? They’re planning a coup?”

“Yeah, something like that. But I don’t think they can do it. They’re only lieutenants. You really have to have a colonel on your side to accomplish a coup,” she said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

I must have look dumbfounded at that point because she continued explaining her reasoning.

“Well, four lieutenants only have, what, two hundred soldiers under them? If you’re a colonel, you command a larger number of people. You can’t pull off a coup with only 200 people.”

I was more surprised that the desk editor — who I had previously suspected was more interested in hair styles and fashion than the inner workings of the armed forces — pronounced her analysis with such a startling lack of emotion. She didn’t have to say a word, I knew she was so used to coup rumors that this bit of news might as well have been someone announcing that Manila’s traffic is bad.

In a place where one group or another attempts to overthrow the president about once a month, it’s no wonder people have coup fatigue. Even I find myself with the beginning symptoms of coup fatigue. This is at least the second coup rumor since I arrived in August — and even I was not rushing to check the news this morning to see if, in fact, the four lieutenants had staged a coup.

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