By BENJIE OLIVEROS
There is nothing much that is happening now. Outgoing president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is supposed to be wrapping things up while incoming president Noynoy Aquino is busy preparing for his inauguration and is in the process of finalizing his line-up for his Cabinet. Now is the period of anticipation.
The Filipino people have waited for six and a half years for June 30 to come. The clamor for Arroyo to step down from power has been going on for eight long years. It began since the last months of 2002 forcing Arroyo to promise that she would not run in 2004, only to turn her back on that promise in 2003 during the filing of candidacy for the 2004 elections. She claimed to have gotten a fresh mandate in the May 2004 presidential elections. However, within a year of her new term, the Arroyo administration was again on the brink of collapse after the “Hello Garci” tapes surfaced in 2005. The Arroyo government declared a state of national emergency, intensified the killings of activists, and harassed the opposition through the filing of trumped up charges while bribing her allies to keep herself in power. One of those she ordered removed from his elected post was former Makati mayor and now incoming vice president Jejomar Binay.
However, even as she was able to maintain herself in power, corruption scandals erupted one after another. The corruption cases involving the Arroyo family and the international shame extrajudicial killings of activists and journalists’ killings brought on the country isolated the Arroyo administration nationally and internationally. Only her unwavering support for then US President George W. Bush’s “war on terror” propped her government up internationally, as well as nationally. The bribery scandal surrounding the National Broadband Network contract with ZTE of China in 2007 almost brought her government down once more during the latter part of 2007 toward the first half of 2008. But she survived owing to the fact that the opposition already had their sights on the 2010 elections.
The Arroyo administration is about to end. What is strange is that she has been spending a lot of government resources to trumpet her so-called accomplishments.
Logic dictates that all of these are a waste of resources unless Arroyo is preparing for something. At the minimum, she may be doing this to make the writing of history kinder to her. However, the announcement of outgoing Defense Sec. Norberto Gonzales that he is forming a “shadow Cabinet”, which he further described as a “government-in-waiting” raises suspicions anew that they are cooking up something. The worst case scenario is that she is paving the way for a comeback. After all , she will be a congresswoman and as such, is still in a position to wield influence. Will she push for charter change?
As the people are happily anticipating the day that the Arroyo family leaves Malacañang, expectations are increasing regarding the “change” that the administration of incoming president Benigno Aquino III would be instituting. The task that lies ahead for the incoming Aquino administration is not easy. The economy is in deep crisis – despite the rosy figures the outgoing Arroyo government has been churning out – and majority of the Filipino people are suffering in deep poverty. Political institutions and processes have been terribly debased by the desperate efforts of the Arroyo government to cling to power. And nothing short of bold changes would differentiate the incoming Aquino administration from the outgoing Arroyo administration.
In 1986, then president the late Cory Aquino was tasked with dismantling martial law and the Filipino people appreciated her for it, even if her administration fell short of the substantial changes that the people are clamoring for. However, for incoming president Benigno Aquino III, there is no martial law to dismantle, and the Filipino people are expecting more than just a situation where it would be business-as-usual minus Arroyo. “Kung walang korap, walang mahirap” (If there is no corruption, there would be no poverty) may be a catchy slogan but it is an oversimplification of the problems confronting Philippine society today.
As of this writing, the people are closely monitoring the line-up of Aquino’s Cabinet. There are expressions of disappointment in some but there are also expressions of approval, such as in the probable appointment of Commission on Human Rights Chairwoman Leila de Lima to the post of Justice secretary. The first 100 days of the Aquino administration would be crucial. While it would be too early to expect changes in 100 days, the decisions and policies the Aquino administration would be implementing during its first three months in office would indicate the direction it would take in the next six years. (Bulatlat.com)