Fearless forecast

By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo

It is becoming clearer by the day that the outcome of the political crisis swamping government and wracking the country today hinges on how it will finally be resolved.

The events of July 8, have been the most earthshaking for the Arroyo regime since the explosive revelation of her wiretapped calls to Commissioner Garcellano in what many believe constitutes a conspiracy to manipulate the results of the 2005 elections in Mrs. Arroyo’s favor.

In quick succession, ten key officials of the Arroyo administration resigned while calling for the resignation of their former boss followed by similar calls from the Makati Business Club, the Liberal Party and former President Corazon Aquino.

It is said that had the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued a stand that in any way hinted it favored Mrs. Arroyo’s stepping down, that would have been the end of her rule.

Thereafter, the anticipated withdrawal of support from the Commander-in- chief by sections of the military, if not the chain of command itself, would have been the coup d’ grace.

But the bishops took time in issuing their statement and eventually did so in ambiguous, some say self-contradictory terms. Malacañang immediately interpreted the bishops’ statement in its favor. Unfortunately, the public had been primed by mass media and political pundits that whatever the conclave of bishops would say would have cataclysmic implications for GMA. That is why anything short of a call for resignation tended to appear to be an endorsement of Mrs. Arroyo’s continued stay.

Meantime former President Ramos, stepped into the fray and saved the Queen but not without exacting his reward. Even if it may be farfetched to conclude that Mr. Ramos is now running the government, his influence in how Mrs. Arroyo will deal with the crisis and how juicy Cabinet positions will be apportioned has increased tremendously.

At this time Mrs. Arroyo appears emboldened to cling to power and is consolidating her remaining base of support. Malacañang has gone on a non-stop media offensive, including paid ads from various sectors professing loyalty to her and “constitutional processes”, as she seeks to project an image of being in firm control of the reins of government.

Will President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last and if so, how much longer?

This column takes the view that Mrs. Arroyo’s days in Malacañang are numbered. Regime change will take place sooner than later; the key question now is how Mrs. Arroyo will eventually be removed from office.

The Arroyo camp insists that it can only be through an impeachment process. They claim that this is the only route that is constitutional and will not undermine the rule of law and so-called democratic institutions. Legal luminaries have disputed this notion but this government line is not surprising.

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