People Power and the Transition Council as Alternative

By the Gloria Step Down Movement (GSM)

In these times of political crisis, turmoil and uncertainty, one thing stands clear: Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) must go. However there is as yet no consensus as to how she will be made to step down and who or what must replace her government.

Indeed, there is some truth to the observation that had there been wide agreement on this, another people power uprising would have erupted and ousted Mrs. Arroyo by now. Putting it another way, the sooner a consensus is reached by the various groups calling and working for her removal, on how and what will replace her regime, the sooner Mrs. Arroyo will be removed from office.

Affirming people power

The government and its apologists and defenders warn the public against resorting to any “unconstitutional” means of unseating and replacing the ruling regime. They equate “unconstitutional” to anarchy, chaos, violence, etc. as though the current turmoil has not been caused both by blatantly unconstitutional anomalies and criminal acts perpetrated by those in power.

They deliberately obscure the fact that People Power 1 and 2 were themselves extra constitutional undertakings. Aquino declared her new government a “revolutionary” one and decreed an interim “Freedom Constitution”. On the other hand, Arroyo insisted that her ascendance to the presidency was due to constitutional succession even as the ouster of Estrada was itself extra constitutional.

But there is a growing number of Filipinos who are open to the idea of a transition government that will do away with the constitutional presidential succession in case Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo resigns or is ousted from Malacañang.

There is as well a growing consensus among many groups calling for the ouster of GMA that the best and most plausible way to override or break away from the “constitutional” process is through the formation of a “transition council” that will pave the way for the creation of a new form of government, and the election of a new administration that would be more representative of and accountable to the people and thus more responsive to the people’s interests.

It is an idea that has gained significant ground over the past weeks. This is because nobody wants to go through all the trouble of deposing Mrs. Arroyo just to install Noli de Castro, the supposed constitutional successor, as president. Neither is the option of a snap election under a transition government presided over by the Senate President acceptable, the people having lost all trust and confidence in the COMELEC; in fact, on the entire electoral process as we know it.

It is also an idea whose time has come. It springs from the widespread realization that more profound changes — not merely of corrupt and unwanted leaders, not just of the rotten electoral process, but of the entire social, political and economic system – are necessary to lift our nation out of the morass of corruption, debt, spiraling prices, poverty, underdevelopment and violence. This sentiment is often expressed as frustration, disillusionment and even disgust over the governments installed by people power.

The people’s realization of the need for systemic reforms has maliciously been misrepresented by the GMA government and its apologists as “people power fatigue” or the supposed rejection of people power as a way out of the present crisis. On the contrary, it indicates a simple yet profound understanding that people power must aim for more than what it has achieved in the past. It shows that the people’s political consciousness has in fact significantly risen from the levels of Edsa 1 and 2.

We believe that what the people want is a people power that will lead to more substantial reforms. That will impact not only on their daily lives but also on the collective good of the nation and the future of generations to come.

On the People’s Agenda

It is not people power that we are dismayed with or tired of.

The people are tired of paying taxes, whether these be direct income taxes or indirect taxes paid through ever-increasing prices of basic goods and services, only to see that government revenues are spent on ever-increasing debt service, fat commissions and kickbacks from government contracts, vote-buying and rigging elections and the pursuit of bloody yet fruitless counter-insurgency programs. We are revolted by the shameless and brazen graft and corruption up to the highest reaches of the Arroyo government, considering that the people had installed it in power through a people’s uprising against corruption. We want a sound fiscal policy and a clean and honest bureaucracy that will not plunder the national coffers and bleed our people dry.

We are sick and tired of claims that our farmers are benefiting from the land reform program, when all around us we see supposed farmer beneficiaries being evicted from or dispossessed of their plots as these are converted into golf courses, subdivisions, commercial and industrial estates. We want genuine land reform that will free our tillers from serfdom and poverty, thereby vesting them with real democratic rights and liberate the economy from the clutches of feudalism.

We are dismayed by successive administrations’ servility to foreign capital – accelerating the removal of protective tariffs and barriers in the name of “globalization”, thereby stifling the growth and eventually killing off domestic industries and causing widespread joblessness. We are appalled by government’s schemes to amend the Constitution in order to grant foreigners the same rights Filipinos have in exploiting and profiting from our national patrimony. We want a robust industrial economy truly free from foreign domination and control.

We condemn rampant criminality, especially the involvement of officials and law enforcers in criminal activities, and the use of extra-judicial killings and other brutal and illegal coercive measures to suppress civil liberties and democratic rights. We want peace and order to reign over our land, o that each one may enjoy the fruits of his or her labor.

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