Arroyo to Deliver 5th SoNA under Damocles’ Sword

The July 19 rally by the broad alliance Women MARCH or Women for Macapagal-Arroyo’s Removal and Regime Change was definitely more successful than the CODAL motorcade. It drew in more than 5,000 women protesters to a program along Ayala Avenue in Makati City. Among the speakers in the women’s rally were former Transportation and Communication Secretary Josefina Lichauco, former election commissioner Harriet Demetriou; and Sandra Cam, the whistleblower in the exposé on the alleged involvement of the Arroyos in jueteng, an illegal numbers game.

Meanwhile, on July 21, GMA 7’s news programs started features on an anti-Arroyo music video prepared by members of ARREST Gloria (Artists for the Removal of Gloria) – an alliance of filmmakers, visual and theater artists, and musicians in the so-called alternative fields. Among ARREST Gloria’s members are musicians Lourd de Veyra of the Radioactive Sago Project and Bobby Balingit of The Wuds, who did the vocals and musical accompaniment for the video, respectively. The video is also expected to be presented at the cultural night in UP on the 24th.

July IBON survey

The extent of the clamor for Macapagal-Arroyo’s exit from Malacañang is also manifested in the results of the latest survey by the socio-economic think tank IBON Foundation, released to the media just last July 21.

Of the survey’s 1,379 respondents – of whom 13.4 percent are from Metro Manila while 84.6 percent are from the country’s other regions – 68.6 percent are of the opinion that Macapagal-Arroyo should be removed from office, or 10.05 percentage points higher than that registered in the March 2005 survey (58.55 percent).

The same survey also shows that Filipinos are not inclined to believe what Macapagal-Arroyo will be saying about her government’s economic accomplishments for this year.

The economy is in a worse state than it was in last year, according to 67.88 percent of the respondents. Meanwhile, 25.89 percent said the economy stayed the same. Only 4.06 percent said it improved.

Macapagal-Arroyo is seen by some observers as focusing on the economy to divert attention from issues of electoral fraud raised against her.

The suspicion that Macapagal-Arroyo cheated her way to victory in the last election stemmed from the surfacing of what looked like tampered election returns showing inconsistencies in the tallying of votes, from all over the country.

Last June 6, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye released two CDs containing audio files of what he said was a taped conversation between the President and a political leader of the administration Lakas-CMD in Mindanao, southern Philippines. One of them, Bunye said, was a version purportedly altered by the opposition to make it appear that Macapagal-Arroyo had cheated in the 2004 presidential election.

Both “original” and “tampered” have portions in which a woman – said to be Macapagal-Arroyo – was asking a man (“Gary” in the “original” version, “Garci” in what Bunye called the tampered version) if she would still win by a million votes. Macapagal-Arroyo won by a million votes over her closest rival, Fernando Poe, Jr.

The President admitted June 27 that she had talked to an election official during the counting of votes – an unlawful act, according to a number of legal experts.

Unlike in previous years, Macapagal-Arroyo will deliver on July 25 her annual SoNA amid a political atmosphere that is decidedly no longer conducive to the continuation of her administration. Bulatlat

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