Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo: The Most Corrupt President?

The Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Star reported yesterday the result of the Pulse Asia survey "Ulat ng Bayan" where 42 % of the respondents consider President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) as the most corrupt president in the history of the Philippines, followed by Marcos (2nd place) and Estrada (3rd place).

I feel saddened by this news. Seven years ago, we met GMA at the KOMPIL II assembly held in Ateneo de Manila University attended by representatives of civil society groups from all over the Philippines. The impeachment proceedings against President Estrada was still going on and we were already making strategic plans for an EDSA II, a people-power that would bring down what we considered as a corrupt president. A week later, EDSA II actually took place after the opposition walked out from the senate. We were out in the streets in Davao, leading a march rally and calling for Estrada's resignation, like many other Filipinos in Metro-Manila and other major cities in the country. I was filled with euphoria when we heard that news that Estrada had stepped down and GMA was sworn in as the new president. The support of the Catholic Church for EDSA II and GMA was most evident during the swearing in at the EDSA shrine with Cardinal Sin and the papal nuncio in attendance. I remember GMA promising in her inaugural speech that she will be different from here predecessor and she woulds usher in a "new politics" that would replace the traditional politics characterized by patronage and corruption. She also promised to pursue the peace process with the MILF and the NDF.
Now seven years later, I am saddened to realize that the president we helped bring to power is no better than Marcos and Estrada. Under her administration, many of the evils that we denounced during the Marcos era and the Estrada administration persist. Besides the charges of corruption, she has been accused of cheating during the elections. She has curtailed civil liberties. Extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances continue. Most of the people remain poor and the armed conflict continues. Peace remains elusive.

I find it so disappointing that after EDSA I and EDSA II, the situation of our country and our people have not really improved. We have kicked out a corrupt and brutal dictator (Marcos) and an immoral and corrupt president (Erap) and what we have is another corrupt and brutal president. Being a woman and a pious Catholic have not made a difference. And she has two more years before her term ends.

Is there hope for our country? There is no way that she can be impeached since she is protected in congress by representathieves who are corrupt like her. There is no chance of another EDSA people power succeeding since people are tired of going out into the streets (that's why Trillanes and company failed again the other week). I fear that more extreme and desperate elements could come into the picture. There are some idealistic and restive junior officers in the military. I am totally opposed to any coup d'etat.

As we celebrate the season of Advent, we wait in hope for better days.

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