It is becoming clearer by the day that the outcome of the political crisis
swamping government and wracking the country today hinges on how it will
finally be resolved.
The events of July 8, have been the most earthshaking for the Arroyo
regime since the explosive revelation of her wiretapped calls to
Commissioner Garcellano in what many believe constitutes a conspiracy to
manipulate the results of the 2005 elections in Mrs. Arroyo’s favor.
In quick succession, ten key officials of the Arroyo administration
resigned while calling for the resignation of their former boss followed
by similar calls from the Makati Business Club, the Liberal Party and
former President Corazon Aquino.
It is said that had the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)
issued a stand that in any way hinted it favored Mrs. Arroyo’s stepping
down, that would have been the end of her rule.
Thereafter, the anticipated withdrawal of support from the Commander-in-
chief by sections of the military, if not the chain of command itself,
would have been the coup d’ grace.
But the bishops took time in issuing their statement and eventually did so
in ambiguous, some say self-contradictory terms. Malacañang immediately
interpreted the bishops’ statement in its favor. Unfortunately, the
public had been primed by mass media and political pundits that whatever
the conclave of bishops would say would have cataclysmic implications for
GMA. That is why anything short of a call for resignation tended to appear
to be an endorsement of Mrs. Arroyo’s continued stay.
Meantime former President Ramos, stepped into the fray and saved the Queen
but not without exacting his reward. Even if it may be farfetched to
conclude that Mr. Ramos is now running the government, his influence in
Mrs. Arroyo will deal with the crisis and how juicy Cabinet positions will
be apportioned has increased tremendously.
At this time Mrs. Arroyo appears emboldened to cling to power and is
consolidating her remaining base of support. Malacañang has gone on a
non-stop media offensive, including paid ads from various sectors
professing loyalty to her and “constitutional processes”, as she seeks to
project an image of being in firm control of the reins of government.
Will President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last and if so, how much longer?
This column takes the view that Mrs. Arroyo’s days in Malacañang are
numbered. Regime change will take place sooner than later; the key
question now is how Mrs. Arroyo will eventually be removed from office.
The Arroyo camp insists that it can only be through an impeachment
process. They claim that this is the only route that is constitutional and
will not undermine the rule of law and so-called democratic institutions.
Legal luminaries have disputed this notion but this government line is
Malacañang thinks this is the safest route to redirect the demands for GMA
resignation because the current balance of forces in Congress favors Mrs.
Arroyo. Speaker de Venecia and the Lakas-NUCD think they will handily
defeat any impeachment move despite the defection to the minority of most
of the members of the Liberal Party.
The administration challenge to those calling for Mrs. Arroyo to go to
Congress and try to have her impeached is actually a tactic to derail the
growing movement calling for her resignation. But as recent history has
proven in the case of former President Joseph Estrada, the impeachment
process is not necessarily a way out for an embattled regime.
The necessary number of votes for impeachment no longer looks formidable
as political alliances shift in a very fluid situation. Even now the Opposition has announced that it is close to getting one-third
or the required number of Congressmen willing to impeach GMA.
As to the resignation scenario, Mrs. Arroyo’s remaining allies such as the
Philippine Chamber of Commerce put it quite accurately when they assert
that the call for resignation hinges on Mrs. Arroyo’s decision alone. And
she has categorically and repeatedly said that she will not resign.
Similarly the CBCP statement leaves it up to her conscience which
unfortunately amounts to the same thing as Mrs. Arroyo by all indications
will not resign on her own.
The problem with the open splits in the Arroyo regime and the institutions
that backed her is that while these serve as major factors in helping to
bring down her government, there is still the missing key ingredient.
And that is, the rejection by the majority of the people of Mrs. Arroyo,
dramatically and unambiguously manifested no less, than by the flooding of
the country’s major thoroughfares with the people’s warm bodies. In other
words, what used to be hailed by the likes of Mrs. Arroyo, former
presidents Corazon Aquino and General Fidel Ramos, the Catholic Church,
mass media and the United States of America in glowing terms as “people
Even sources in the military confirm that disgruntled groups and those who
want to see an end to the Arroyo regime will not make any move to withdraw
their support without masses of people demonstrating in the streets of
Manila and elsewhere.
Thus it appears that all roads will eventually lead to the ouster
scenario. Mrs. Arroyo will have to be forced out of office. She will have
to hightail out of Malacañang the way her predecessor did, on the heels of
an outraged throng gathered at the gates of the presidential palace.
If and when this happens, an extra constitutional change in government
looms as the most likely outcome. In which case, the likelihood of Vice
President Noli de Castro taking over is eclipsed. Some form of
transitional arrangement will then come to the fore that is not
necessarily confined to the legal framework prescribed in the 1987
Already there is a widespread and growing sentiment that it is not enough
to change Mrs. Arroyo only to install a regime that will turn out to be as
corrupt, undemocratic and subservient to foreign interests and the vested
interests of the elite in this country; that is, a regime that will go
through another cycle of instability and crisis that will necessitate its
being booted out as well.
It indicates a widespread realization that “people power” must aim for
more than it has achieved in the past. It bears close watching whether
the overall situation and the moves of various political forces working
for Mrs. Arroyo’s ouster will allow such an aspiration to come to pass.
Posted by Bulatlat
*Published by BusinessWorld, 15-16 July 05
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© 2004 Bulatlat
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