State of survival
At the State-of-the-Nation-Address, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was the unmistakable picture of a happy, if not triumphant, survivor.
She who, by virtue of being vice president, became president in 2001 on the heels of a “people power” uprising, the shifting of loyalty by top military and police generals preceded by the EDSA I Triumvirate (Cardinal Sin, former Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos), discrete financing by anti-Erap businessmen and the indecent haste of the Davide Supreme Court to proclaim her the new president.
She who promised to the nation three years later that she would not run for another term so as to heal the political wounds that she caused but who reneged on her promise and ran anyway when her political war chest was brimming and her popularity ratings improved.
She who utilized the overwhelming advantages of an incumbent President including a hot line to the Commission on Elections and being Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces to “win” a second term in office and be hastily proclaimed once more in the wee hours of the morning but who was caught red-handed engaging in electoral fraud and who essentially confirmed her sin by publicly apologizing with the mysterious words “I- am-sorry”.
She who was under siege for more than a year with mounting calls for her resignation, huge demonstrations, an impeachment petition, rebelliousness among the military and police forces, Senate investigations of scams and scandals and increasing tactical offensives by the communist-led New People’s Army and sporadic fighting with Moro secessionists.
She it was who resorted to the vilest of lies, the most barefaced cover-up of crimes, the most diabolical machinations and the most brutal and murderous attacks against her critics and political opponents.
Yes, there is no doubt about it, Mrs. Arroyo has survived.
That is what her bright fuchsia terno and her beaming smile was proclaiming.
That is what her profuse expressions of gratitude to her loyalists was all about: the generals (who stood by her through the trials of vote padding and the tribulations of military rebellion); the congressmen (who killed the first impeachment complaint using all the legal tricks and when those weren’t enough, their sheer number); and the local government officials (who plucked from thin air millions of signatures for a “people’s initiative” to revise the Charter that would legitimize her tenuous hold on power).
Not to be forgotten, she thanked the people for “resist(ing) persistent if not pathetic calls for despair instead of faith, for anarchy instead of harmony”; that is, for not ousting her unceremoniously the way they did former President Erap and the dictator Marcos. Not yet, anyway.
In short, that was the State-of-the-Nation in the eyes of a reviled and isolated President who has clung to power by the skin of her teeth; of course with the generous backing of the US through President Bush and the multinational corporations, corrupt and blood-thirsty generals, favored big business interests and presidential cronies, amoral and politically naïve, if not compromised, bishops and Malacañang/Congressional toadies feeding on presidential largesse.
Instead of drawing a truthful picture of the state of the nation, where to proceed and how, Mrs. Arroyo chose to paint a fantasy land, complete with a slick power point presentation of future multi billion-peso infrastructure projects and live icons of success like boxing champ Manny Pacquiao, a beauty queen and bemedalled athletes, hoping to delude the people into thinking that now all is well and the road to the “Enchanted Kingdom” beckons.
Neda head Neri and Budget Secretary Andaya had already stated that there is a need for more foreign and domestic borrowings to finance GMA’s mega projects. They said government expects to use $3B foreign loans for this year. So Mrs. Arroyo’s SONA means this administration means to further bury the people under the weight of debts, now running to trillions of pesos, only to be squandered on the costs of bribing Congressmen and all sorts of dishonorable persons for Mrs. Arroyo’s survival, plundered by presidential cronies and bureaucratic vultures and wasted away on failed counter-insurgency programs.
Despite gross mismanagement, corruption and basic flaws in the system, the Philippine economy is afloat due to remittances by overseas Filipino workers. Yet the experience of evacuating and repatriating overseas workers from war-torn Lebanon shows government undertaking exceedingly slow and halfhearted efforts to ensure the security and welfare of our “modern-day heroes”.
But the real state of the nation was exposed by the deployment of sixteen thousand police and AFP troops to secure Mrs. Arroyo despite government’s announcement that all serious challenges to her rule, all the “destabilization” plots and plotters, had been uncovered and neutralized.
It appears that Mrs. Arroyo merely feigns confidence but is still much too scared to face the angry, hungry and disenchanted people, as exemplified by several thousand protestors in Manila who had braved torrential rains and floods and the repeated threats of violent dispersal as well as tens of thousands more in the provinces. An iron hand is still needed to impose Mrs. Arroyo’s rule and protect usurpers and wrongdoers.
Still the most outrageous act of Mrs. Arroyo at her SONA was public commendation of General Jovito Palparan, the man who stands accused by human rights victims, their families and their organizations of the grossest and most heinous forms of human rights violations, of leading and directing a campaign of terror that violates the people’s universally recognized and constitutionally guaranteed civil and political rights and of encouraging and then coddling murderers and torturers in uniform.
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo brazenly confirmed and reaffirmed, on national television, that political killings are government policy with the blessings of the Commander-in-Chief.
Undoubtedly, it was a most public display of official callousness and criminal intent.
28-29 July 2006