The People Are Ready for Bold Reforms

Macapagal-Arroyo’s own political allies who have asked her to resign the presidency now pit themselves against the clamor for a people’s transitional governing council. Not that their call for resignation is a retrogressive move; it’s simply that they loathe the day the aroused masses may suddenly take the reins of government.

By Bobby Tuazon

At this early, the growing clamor to install a people’s transitional governing council upon the resignation or ouster of embattled President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo faces an orchestrated resistance from factions of the country’s ruling elite. These factions, led by former President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, Senate President Franklin Drilon, other political parties, and the business elite – all traditional allies of Macapagal-Arroyo broke their silence last week and asked the incumbent president to step down.

Another former president and armed forces chief, Fidel V. Ramos, took a wavering position by asking Macapagal-Arroyo to stay on as “caretaker president” for one year. Within the year, a constituent assembly would be convened that would amend the constitution and adopt a parliamentary form of government. Elections will be held in May 2006.

Ramos’ proposal differs from that of Cojuangco-Aquino, Drilon and company who want a “constitutional succession” that would name Vice President Noli de Castro as the new president.

All agree, however, that these measures would ensure a smooth transition in the presidency and avoid the acrimonious impeachment or people power that have unseated two presidents – Joseph E. Estrada in 2001 and before him, Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1986.

Before they made the decision, these national figures and groups had supported Macapagal-Arroyo who is accused of stealing the presidency in the May 2004 polls and of connections to jueteng (illegal numbers game) lords before she became president.

Their plea for the president’s resignation coincided with the resignation of at least 10 members of the cabinet who also called for the turnover of power to De Castro. A day earlier, they were stunned by Macapagal-Arroyo who, instead of herself resigning, used them as sacrificial lambs by asking them to quit their cabinet posts so that, she claimed, she could start a much-needed reform program. In a news conference, the cabinet secretaries chorused that the chief executive is already unable to govern and that she should go in order to avert a political crisis.


Coming from elements who apparently benefited from the illegitimate presidency of Macapagal-Arroyo – with Cojuangco-Aquino’s 6,000-ha hacienda itself protected by the president’s labor, police and military forces in the ongoing workers’ strike that saw the massacre of seven strikers and the extra-judicial execution of several others – one is tempted to search for explanations.

Leaders of mass organizations identified with the oust-Gloria movement have a common reaction to this sudden move by the former allies of Macapagal-Arroyo: To pre-empt another people power revolt and the formation of a proposed people’s governing transition council.

Indeed, if the incumbent president finally takes the “supreme sacrifice” of stepping down, then she would be succeeded by De Castro, a protégé of the Lopez oligarchs, with either Drilon, House Speaker Jose de Venecia or Sen. Manny Villar appointed as vice president. Everybody will be happy, the new administration will govern, Congress will continue with its legislative job, so too would be the judiciary. Close associates of Macapagal-Arroyo will be happy too – she would have been saved from a possible impeachment or from suffering the disgrace of being booted out of power by a people’s uprising and joining Estrada in his detention in Tanay, Rizal.

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