The Arroyo regime’s façade of strength and staying power in the aftermath of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s worst political crisis in 2005 shows serious, if not deadly, cracks. Only a fool – or the President’s spokesperson – (these days they seem to be indistinguishable) can say otherwise.
Like a dam that seems to be holding, able to withstand the crush of tons of water, it is really a question of how much more of the onrushing flood of critical issues and scandals the GMA regime can take in 2006 given its severely damaged credibility, shrinking political capital and precarious financial situation.
Mrs. Arroyo faces more and bigger problems in the new year because all she did in the previous one was to sow and foster problems. Rather than resolve these by coming clean, telling the whole truth and allowing the people to be the ultimate judge, she has resorted to half-truths and outright lies, used her authority to suppress evidence and silence witnesses, neutralized both houses of Congress via bribes and EO 464 and further curtailed civil liberties and democratic rights to “preempt” massive protests and restiveness in the military and police ranks.
Her purported political mettle consists of crisis management by way of sweeping problems under the rug and getting her spin masters to project this as an achievement.
An example we cannot pass up is the government’s fiscal and financial crisis. It had gotten so bad Mrs. Arroyo was forced to admit it. She then used her uncharacteristic candor to justify new taxes and higher government fees. More than three fourths of the government budget was being eaten up by debt servicing, neoliberal economic reform measures like liberalization had drastically reduced government revenue, government-owned and controlled corporations like Napocor continued to bleed financially and big-time graft and corruption was further draining dwindling public funds.
Now the government crows about having licked the problem simply because it was able to get Congress to pass the new revenue measures including the expanded value-added tax despite howls of public protest. Consequently it earned the over-valued pat on the back from the IMF-World Bank and international credit rating agencies. In truth, the $12 B worth of annual remittances by overseas workers is the single biggest factor that has kept the economy alive this year no thanks to government’s economic managers.
Mrs. Arroyo may have survived, for now, impeachment by Congress, ouster through the parliament of the streets, and calls by major institutions, political personalities and former Cabinet officials to resign but only at an incalculable political cost. It is a fact that more and more people want regime change and are hankering for Mrs. Arroyo to step down.
The cumulative effects of unresolved economic, political and moral issues hounding the Arroyo regime from the time it opportunistically took power after the ouster of Joseph Estrada to its stealing the May presidential elections, will enlarge the cracks in the political dam the regime has erected to contain the wrath of the people.
New issues based on old problems are bound to crop up next year since the Arroyo regime is not expected to undertake any major reform measures other than cosmetic ones and rely more than ever on repressive measures and deception to stay in power.
The further unification of the politically disparate anti-Arroyo forces this coming year is a development that will spell doom for a regime that has been able to get some tactical reprieve but has not been able to decisively defeat its enemies nor remove the current as well as the more fundamental causes of its instability and weakness.
We greet 2006 with abiding faith in the Filipino people’s capacity to boot out tyrants, corrupt and immoral leaders, fascists and traitors to the national interest, in due time.
That’s cause enough to celebrate. Happy New Year to one and all!
Dec. 30-31, 2005