Macapagal-Arroyo’s rule is itself beginning to crumble with the anticipated resignation of more officials and close allies of Macapagal-Arroyo from government. Despite public pronouncements of support for the President, Vice President Noli de Castro is reportedly in secret talks with some opposition leaders some of whom, incidentally, are also calling for a snap election. The cabinet has also become fractious, with at least five members last week threatening to leave unless the President publicly admitted to the wiretapping that confirmed allegations of electoral fraud in the May 2004 polls. Of course, Macapagal-Arroyo refused to say she “cheated” and described the incident as a mere “lapse in judgment.”
This week, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap followed the resignation of Haydee Yorac, head of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), purportedly to concentrate on a tax evasion charge. Rep. Roilo Golez, Macapagal-Arroyo’s former national security adviser, also resigned from the ruling coalition, Kampi, and as chair of the House committee on defense. Golez is known to be close to the U.S. government and his resignation is seen as a move to position himself in the new government that would replace the present regime.
The U.S. embassy in Manila is also somewhat singing a different tune, from giving full support to the beleaguered Filipino President to support “for accountability and the rule of law,” with a veiled endorsement for the current congressional probes within the bounds of the “constitution and due process.” This is not to rule out however possible maneuvers to influence the outcome of any constitutional succession or, as some quarters predict, a tacit support for a military junta – if that is the only way to deter the increasing influence of the Left in the current political fray.
In late 2000-2001, the lack of confidence in the presidency on the part of the business community also helped accelerate the fall of Estrada. But influential business groups notably the Makati Business Club (MBC) did so only after the IMF, multilateral credit organizations and risk analysis groups had cast doubts on the ability of the Estrada regime to put its house in order and only after the IMF itself threatened to suspend loan pledges.
Last week, the IMF said it is sending a survey mission to the Philippines this month. The announcement came as the Philippine peso further dipped and the continuing loss in investors’ confidence and bleak findings were revealed by a number of risk analysis agencies including more recently the ACNielsen.
Speaking for the MBC, Guillermo Luz said that while Macapagal-Arroyo’s admission to the wiretapping conversation is positive this should not halt the ongoing congressional hearings including plans about impeachment from continuing. Luz’s position may have shown an initial rift in the influential business community. Both the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) have urged that the President “should be given more space” and that the wiretapping and jueteng issues should be put in the backburner.
The Church, which was also partly instrumental in the ouster of Marcos in 1986 and Estrada in 2001, is also lending its oppositionist voice. Four more bishops have joined Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz in calling for Macapagal-Arroyo to step down. They were Bishops Julio Xavier Labayen, Antonio Tobias and Deogracia Yñiguez and Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales.
The Philippine Independent Church has also officially declared its support for the ouster move.
With the hearings in Congress and impeachment plans seen to be derailed, it now rests upon the parliament of the streets to take its course until the incumbent illegitimate president is finally ousted. Political allies of the president, including the influential business community and members of the economic elite are expected of course not to let this pass by just sitting down – particularly if the ouster is followed by a transition coalition council representing the militant Left and anti-Arroyo opposition forces. Instead, these forces may ask the President for a graceful exit to allow a constitutional succession – or even a snap election – while opposing by every means any transition that would disenfranchise them from power.
Whatever the outcome, 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. Bulatlat