Arroyo’s Charter-Change Gambit: Longer Rule, Assured Immunity, Divided Public

“As if the extrajudicial killings of journalists is not enough, Arroyo wants to muzzle the press through this bill,” Taguiwalo said. The Philippine press, she said, has been instrumental in exposing the corruption and other scandals involving Arroyo, her allies and immediate relatives.

Weak Opposition

Lim said that if the Arroyo clique insists on pushing charter change, Filipinos will take to the streets. He noted, however, that the opposition is weak. “It is not united to fight,” he said, pointing out the disagreements, internal quarrels among the opposition. “The people are expecting them to come together but they have not.”

Cenpeg, in its paper, said any of Arroyo’s options “will likely come into fruition in the absence of a solid opposition bloc that will challenge Arroyo and ensure an anti-Arroyo opposition victory in the 2010 presidential and local elections.”

Cenpeg noted that “five months away to the deadline for the filing of candidacy in the coming automated elections, the broad but divided anti-Arroyo opposition has yet to put its act together in order to forge a formidable bloc with a national machinery that can match that of the Arroyo coalition.”

Colmenares, of Bayan Muna, said “the opposition and the mass movement must join ranks along with various sectors of society who stand for truth, accountability and good governance.” The people, he said, are disgusted with Arroyo and “this disgust can and should translate to massive protest actions that will compel Mrs. Arroyo and her cohorts to abandon” their plan to change the charter.

“Progressive forces, including those aching for reform in the country’s political and electoral systems, should now face the reality that Mrs. Arroyo and her supporters are positioning themselves for power extension as shrewdly as the traditional opposition appears to be headed for electoral uncertainties,” Cenpeg said. “More effective and creative strategies are needed, certainly more than the reactive protestations against fraud, corruption, persecution, and dirt politics that people have known of this administration for nine years.”

Taguiwalo said the outrage of the people toward the Arroyo regime “must be translated into action.” The challenge, she pointed out, is to “transform discontent into action, and break individualism, fear and apathy.” (

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