Carol Pagaduan-Araullo | Clinging to Reins of Power

Streetwise / Business World
Posted by Bulatlat

Her term ending in June 2010, de facto president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo finally filed her candidacy as congresswoman in the second district of Pampanga, her hometown, ending all speculation that she would seek the post. The prevarication and manipulation that preceded it, the orchestrated “clamor” for her to run and the barrage of legal, religious and political justifications for a sitting president, with all the unfair and undue advantage of her office, to seek a congressional seat – all clearly point to a vile scheme to keep the Arroyo-Ermita-Gonzales clique in power beyond 2010.

The members of the Arroyo cabal have managed to escape accountability by stretching, distorting and mangling to previously unimaginable lengths not only the laws of the land but every single norm of decency, propriety and morality. They have displayed to all and sundry – at the expense of the Filipino people – what one can do with a decaying social and political system to gain, expand and preserve power, wealth and privilege.

The Arroyo clique has been close to a decade in power. It has gotten away with stealing the 2004 presidential elections; with declaring emergency rule and cracking down on the protest movement demanding Arroyo’s ouster; and with scams to amass mind-boggling wealth together with the gagging of witnesses by invoking “executive privilege” (a trick upheld by a Supreme Court packed with Arroyo appointees).

It has masterminded, through Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL or Operation Freedom Watch), the summary executions of critics and unarmed dissidents and displaced tens of thousands of civilians in the name of countering “terrorism” and “insurgency”. It has deliberately sustained warlordism and the concomitant reign of lawless terror in the countryside in order to “multiply” the capacity of the military, police and paramilitary forces in waging a US-directed “dirty war” against the restive populace. The recent massacre perpetrated by the Ampatuans in Maguindanao is only the latest and so far worst atrocity brought about by the Arroyo culture of state-sponsored violence and impunity.

It has driven the economy and the people’s livelihood to the ground by blindly following the neoliberal “globalization” policy framework. It has persisted in implementing the debt-driven, export-oriented and foreign investment-led economic model that has consistently failed to bring about genuine development but instead worsened the grinding poverty, want and misery of the people.

Not least of its sins is that, in exchange for continued United States backing for its illegitimate rule, it allows the world’s Superpower to establish an unwarranted, illegal and downright interventionist military presence on Philippine soil. In so doing, the Arroyo regimes has undermined the rights and welfare of Filipinos in their own country especially victims of military operations and crimes committed by US forces.

The clamor to put an end to the Arroyo regime is clearly overwhelming. Most have pinned their hopes in the coming elections, believing there is no way Arroyo and her gang can hold on to the presidency beyond June 2010.

This is deja vu circa 1971-72, when the Marcos presidency was about to reach the end of its constitutional term. Ferdinand Marcos orchestrated a series of incidents, from the Plaza Miranda bombing in 1971 to the fake ambush on then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile on the eve of the declaration of martial law, to justify the perpetuation of his rule as martial law dictator.

Recent history and current circumstances tell us that whether or not elections take place, the Arroyo clique will still be in a position to retain power. Mrs. Arroyo may appear to have “graciously stepped down” from the presidency by running for a congressional seat, but she still has sufficient de facto control and political clout to catapult herself back in power.

The administration machinery, with all the ill-gotten wealth and the military and police establishments behind it, will certainly be utilized once more to realize the electoral “victory” of Arroyo followers at all levels (congress and local government). With such notorious characters as Virgilio Garcillano, Jocjoc Bolante, Benjamin Abalos off the hook and living now in even greater comfort, how many more scams and millions of votes can this machinery produce for these coming “elections”?

Moreover, the Arroyo clique has the ability, resources and the strong motivation to disrupt the electoral process itself, declare a failure of elections en toto or selectively, and resort to emergency rule anytime it estimates that this is necessary to ensure its hold on power.

The apparent complacency and cavalier attitude of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) towards addressing the gargantuan and critical problems in implementing the Automated Elections System is not at all reassuring. The entire system appears to be designed to fail and is indeed headed for failure.

We cannot allow the Arroyo gang to succeed with its evil design to remain in power. We cannot wait until after the elections to unmask, resist and defeat such a horrendous plot that portends to be even worse than the palace coup that imposed fascist rule under the Marcos dictatorship.

The broad array of anti-Arroyo forces and personages must awaken to the real and malevolent threat that the Arroyo clique presents to any semblance of a democratic electoral exercise in 2010 while recognizing the basic defects in the ruling system that breeds such evil.

Despite the substantial differences and the divergent campaigns being waged by the opposition candidates for national and local offices, a way must be found to unite once more and face the menace of an Arroyo regime entrenching itself in Malacañang for years to come.

Opposing the Arroyo gang’s bid to perpetuate itself in power is the necessary first step to bringing about genuine reforms in our society. (Business World / Posted by Bulatlat)

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