Monday, May 10, 2010

Last chance for Gloria Arroyo to bow out gracefully

As of this writing which is about three hours since voting began the performance of the PCOS machines have been less than promising. I hope and pray though that by the time this column is published we would have already known who the winners of the 2010 election are, especially our national leaders, starting with the president-elect.
Frankly, I never thought Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the most unpopular president this country has ever had, would last her term, which up to this time is largely perceived as illegitimate because of the Hello Garci vote-rigging scandal, of which she was never held accountable.

But here we are.

A lot of people, including me, believe 2010 is essentially a referendum on the GMA administration, which partly explains why Noynoy Aquino, who’s seen as the antithesis of GMA, was the runaway leader in all polls going into the elections. He was the sure winner in the same way that the candidates associated with GMA would be sure losers.

So here’s to hoping we’ve seen the last of GMA in Malacañang. We’ve waited way too long, and very patiently, for 2010.

This is not the last we’ll here from GMA. She’ll be a congresswoman in her district in Pampanga, which is as jueteng-plagued now as the day Erap Estrada was ousted primarily because of a jueteng scandal.

She still has allies in the House, and with her sons and some in-laws there, even threatens to turn it into a dynastic club. She’s certainly, brazenly, worked hard to get where she’s at today, even ensuring that she’s got some measure of protection in case Noynoy lives up to his promise of pursuing corruption cases against her.

She allegedly had stashed away quite a war booty that can finance the impeachment of a president if need be; or at least tie up the courts with the brilliant machinations of highly paid legal eagles, so she won’t need to see a day behind bars if ever.

So I do hope with these in-surances tucked away she would see the wisdom of bowing out gracefully and ensuring a peaceful transition of power.

She has promised this, of course, several times in fact, through her various spokespeople. But then, she has broken promises before.

It’s all about change now. People are clamoring for it, and if it doesn’t come today by some evil, or through the Garci ghost of elections past, then people, I think are even willing to fight for it.

Cardinal Rosales is wrong, incoherently wrong if I may say so. Not everyone can be bought off or silenced by the largesse of GMA. And people power is still very much alive.

GMA may think the press, the opposition, the people has been very rough and tough on her. But I think she has actually gotten a pass. She was able to finish her term.

Instead of shaping up after Hello Garci though and doing all good and no more evil, she further made the presidency into the family business, and Malacañang, her royal domain. She further devalued the presidency as well as other public institutions. She devalued Philippine democracy itself. Indeed, she made campaigning irrelevant by actually determining, through the likes of Garci and Ampatuan, who can and cannot win elective posts.

This 2010 election is personal to a lot of people, especially to those who have been victims of violence and other human rights violations during GMA’s term. This is personal to the relatives who died by Ampatuan’s guns, to the families of journalists and activists who were never seen nor heard of again. This is personal to us, who have been clamoring for a clean, honest government and accountability.

We have been denied justice for far too long. Almost a decade has been lost to corruption and human rights violations, not counting the short term of Erap who was ousted also because of corruption issues. The Philippines is now the most dangerous place for journalists, after the Ampatuan massacre.

Madam Arroyo, you have had your time. You had your expensive farewell tour all over the globe with your entourage. You can relish your final moments in Malacañang.

Enjoy yourself, madam. Engage in nostalgia if you will. I’m sure there are some good things to remember.
People liked you once. You were once the top vote getter in the Senate race, and you won by a landslide when you ran for vice-president. People had such high hopes when you took over from Erap.

But the day has come, when a new president has been elected. It is time, finally, for you to step down. The day has come for you to bow out. Do so gracefully.

For once, people will applaud you.

Let no one say that, when the time came, you had to be dragged kicking and screaming from Malacañang.

The Filipino people, if this election goes awry, are just about ready to do that too.
BY ERNESTO F. HERRERA for Manila Times

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