Time to Go
By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo
The name of the game
these days is “Will she or won’t she get away with it?”
She of course refers
to the woman with the unique voice and manner of speaking, caught
redhanded via a wiretapped phone conversation, trying to manipulate the
results of the 2004 presidential elections through a variety of criminal
and illegal means.
She is none other
than President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who finally owned up to being the
woman everyone immediately recognized her to be -- calling, talking and
effectively colluding with Commission on Elections Commissioner Virgilio
Garcillano, aka “Garcy”, in committing electoral fraud on a grand scale in
order to win by 1 million votes against Fernando Poe Jr, her closest
GMA gave the
performance of her life by publicly saying “I’m sorry” for making a
supposed “lapse in judgement” in making “any such call” to an unnamed
Comelec official. She then appealed for unity in order to forge ahead
with all the extraordinary economic reforms and corruption-busting
programs she had worked so hard on that would purportedly lead the country
to the path of salvation.
Sadly, the admission
and the apology just doesn’t wash.
Both are insincere.
We know this because three weeks earlier the Arroyo administration had
engaged in a clumsy cover-up that saw the Presidential Spokesperson
admitting the voice was Mrs. Arroyo’s, accusing her political enemies of
having illegally wiretapped her phone conversations, then trying to pass
off two tampered tapes as proof of a grand destabilization plot against
the President, only to be corrected two days later by the Executive
Secretary who said that it wasn’t Mrs. Arroyo.
Meanwhile the DOJ
Secretary, a presidential toady of the highest order, threatens everyone
who is in possession of, reproducing, distributing or otherwise listening
to the “Gloria-Garcy” tapes of illegal wiretapping, sedition and other
possible crimes he alone can think of.
All throughout the
swirling controversy, the President kept mum and hid behind the cloak of
legality until her silence itself became the issue that not even her
closest allies could defend. Only then did she decide to “confess."
However, Mrs. Arroyo
didn’t actually confess all, only what would pass as her “venial” sins.
She resorted to half-truths, obfuscations and more lies.
One of these is her
claim that the elections had ended by the time of the first wiretapped
conversation on 26 May 2004 and that she could not have possibly
influenced the outcome. It is known that the election canvassing was only
concluded on the third week of June, plenty of time to manipulate the
results through the wholesale and virtually undetectable scheme perfected
by Commissioner Garcillano called “dagdag-bawas” (literally,
add-and-subtract) which is executed at provincial and regional levels.
The people were also
witness to the disturbing spectacle of how the pro-GMA majority in the
Congressional Joint Canvassing Committee railroaded the process until its
culmination in Mrs. Arroyo’s proclamation as winner during the wee hours
of the morning, clearly as a way to preempt any mass protest. No wonder
55% of people surveyed believe, even before the disclosure of the
“Gloria-Garcy” tapes, that Mrs. Arroyo had cheated her way to victory.
Mrs. Arroyo did not
actually admit to talking specifically to Commissioner Garcillano. She did
not specify which parts of the taped conversations she was validating. Her
lawyers obviously made sure no part of her admission could be used against
her in any impeachment trial thus the deliberate ambiguity of her
Curiously Mrs. Arroyo
is unperturbed that Commissioner Garcillano has mysteriously disappeared
form the scene and is not at all anxious for him to be found to shed light
on the presidential “lapse."
After her dramatic
apology, she refuses to answer any follow-up questions on her so-called
admission. One would expect quite the opposite behavior on her part.
Logically, as proof
of her innocence regarding alleged serious breaches of the law including
her oath of office, Mrs. Arroyo should have ordered a full-dress
investigation into the matter by an independent and credible body. If her
sin is truly confined to a “lapse of judgement” or what some of her
apologists dismiss as merely inappropriate behavior, Mrs. Arroyo would be
the first to benefit from such an impartial investigation.
apology is ineffective because it is contrived. It is a thinly disguised
public relations ploy designed to appeal to the emotions by making Mrs.
Arroyo appear to be humbling herself before the public, asking for a
second chance to do better.
It is another
desperate attempt at damage control whose main purpose is to further
cover-up Mrs. Arroyo’s multiple criminal liabilities in conspiring to
defraud the electorate; paper over her moral and political
accountabilities as President and Commander-in-Chief; and fend off the
growing clamor for her to step down from a position she has clearly
Will Mrs. Arroyo get
away with it? We think not. The people could forgive a leader who has
made a mistake, even a serious one, if he or she is perceived as earnestly
serving their interests and looking after their welfare while maintaining
a high standard of personal integrity, honesty and incorruptibility. Mrs
Arroyo has long ceased to fit the description.
It’s time for her to
column, July 1-2, 2005
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