Any scenario that would preserve the present political institutions which have proven to be rotten and already past their age – or something that will put up a military junta – will only precipitate a more radical transformation. And the new political struggle may usher in a revolutionary situation.
By Bobby Tuazon
The next three weeks are expected to be crucial in determining whether embattled President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will stay in power longer or begin to lose her grip on the presidency. On July 25, the President will deliver her traditional state-of-the-nation (SONA) address before Congress amid mounting calls for her to step down due to election fraud and alleged jueteng (illegal numbers game) connections during her vice presidency.
Whatever happens, the fact remains that many Filipinos already foresee a post-Arroyo scenario and the only thing that is preventing that from happening is who – or what – will replace her.
As things stand now, most of the conditions that would make a Macapagal-Arroyo stay untenable are fast building up. Aside from the public outrage generated by the recent events, there are signs of fissures within the government itself, grim economic forecasts, and grumblings in both the church and business sectors.
Tactical offensives by the Marxist New People’s Army (NPA) have reportedly stepped up as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is itself haunted by the emergence of certain groups disgruntled with their commander-in-chief and what could be a divisive change in command with the retirement of its current chief of staff in August.
If push comes to shove, the President may yet lose valuable support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Bush government itself. In past regime changes, the withdrawal of support by these two powerful institutions became decisive in the final hours of the Marcos and Estrada presidencies.
Unlike in the case of the fallen president Joseph E. Estrada however any move to impeach Macapagal-Arroyo now will be likely derailed given the hegemony of pro-Arroyo legislators in both the House and the Senate. The ongoing Senate hearings on the jueteng pay-off involving the President’s husband and son and the House inquiry into the wiretapping scandal are only expected to further infuriate the minority opposition bloc as Macapagal-Arroyo’s minions try to stall and obstruct the investigations.
Thus more and more Filipinos, who have already made their verdict on Macapagal-Arroyo following her admission on the wiretapping conversation last week, see the constitutional process of removing the President futile and are now more convinced to bringing the issue to the streets. If it is any indication, the July 1 turnout at the rally in Makati City – estimated at 20,000 including spontaneous participants – signals the build up in the oust-Gloria campaign. Most of the groups taking part in the demonstration are pushing for a transition coalition council or a “caretaker government” in place of a constitutional succession upon the President’s ouster.
As far as we can see, however, there are differences that need to be resolved among the council proponents. One of these is whether the council should be headed by deposed President Joseph Estrada, the widow of the deceased presidential candidate Fernando Poe, Jr. – Susan Roces – or somebody else. Some opposition forces are working for Estrada who is presently detained for plunder charges to re-assume the presidency or quickly call for a new presidential election without going through the rudiments of drafting a new progressive constitution and a pro-people economic blueprint.
Just the same in the coming days and weeks, the oust-Gloria rallies in Metro Manila will increase by multitudes and become nationwide even as similar mass protests are also mounting in Canada, the United States, Hong Kong and other countries where there are big Filipino communities.
Incensed by E-Vat
The move to oust what is now widely believed to be an illegitimate president is expected to swell as more Filipinos are incensed by new increases in the prices of fuel, transport fare and other basic necessities with the controversial expanded value added tax (E-Vat) taking effect on July 1 (although it has been temporarily stopped by the Supreme Court) and the general decline of income, employment and other burdens. In fact public discontent over Macapagal-Arroyo – as shown in latest performance surveys where her ratings were lowest compared to her three predecessors – has accumulated in the four years of her presidency.