"They have finally identified the head of the terrorists in the Philippines and it is no other than Ogloria Bin Lying." That was one of the most creative text jokes that I received recently. Text jokes are part of the nation’s survival kit these days and that one says it all. In one sentence it sums up all our problems and fears nowadays – the “winter of our discontent” as Shakespeare put it in Richard III.
Madame Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s natural bent for duplicity has victimized even the best and the brightest, and these are mostly affluent people who have embraced her myth about being the lesser-evil choice in the 2004 elections. Honed by the harsh and hostile environment of competition and survival, businessmen are supposed to be more wily and discerning. But even the best of them had been taken for a ride.
Most of the businessmen I know who had subscribed to the lure of the ‘lesser evil’ line now vehemently regret having done so. Quite a number of them now say that that for all his inadequacies, Fernando Poe, Jr. (FPJ) could not have done more damage than the force-feeding to a nation of a president who is generally believed to be a cheat and a fraud.
The Charter Change idea of Fidel V. Ramos (FVR) and Joe de Venecia (JDV) came in handy in buying Madame Arroyo time and saving her from imminent ouster. She danced to their Cha-cha music, knowing that FVR and JDV offered the milder recourse to either her ouster from power or indictment, even possibly both. Now that both FVR and JDV are keenly pressing for Charter Change, we now read from her a totally different body language, one which definitely points to maintaining status quo.
JDV is the ringleader in the quashing of the impeachment case against Madame Arroyo in congress. With the biggest threat out of the way, she now wants things back to square one and will do everything to keep her tenure intact. This includes rewarding the blindly loyal with largesse, thus even the very position of JDV as speaker was threatened to be replaced by the devoted Rep. Prospero Pichay.
The problem with the big lie is that it is as catastrophic as terminal cancer that metastasizes to create more lies to back up the big lie. Let’s review the new falsehoods that Madame Macapagal-Arroyo’s big lie of being the ‘elected 2004 president’ has generated.
“The protests are derailing the reform and the progress”
The truth is that the effects of the grand larceny committed to thwart the results of the 2004 presidential elections have started to crawl like an angel of death choking our vital signs and wreaking havoc on our economy. With 80% of Filipinos disgusted with having this presidential pretender, this nation is certainly not geared up to moving forward. Macapagal-Arroyo and her lies are the cancer that cuts the lifeblood of progress. The sooner this malignancy leaves, the sooner we can mend our unhealthy state of affairs.
She talks of ‘reform’ but the starting point of reform can only be the truth. Yet what we are subjected to these days are lies that further distance us from national salvation. The only time she ever admitted to wrongdoing was when she delivered her well-rehearsed “I am sorry” elocution piece. Not only did she fail to convince the nation to swallow her incredulous story line, she also reinforced the nation’s pain from her betrayal and established more bases for more Filipinos to doubt her character.
In a recent column, fellow INQ7 columnist Walden Bello debunked administration pronouncements that attempted to paint the illusion of fiscal reform and progress. Among the main points that Walden exposed were the following:
1. For the administration, only 25% of Filipinos are poor. But the more reliable ADB figures reveal that 44.4% of Filipinos live in poverty.
2. The National Statistical Coordinating Office reported that our trade deficit was $ 218 million in 2002, $1.27 billion in 2003 and $713 million in 2004. The truth is, the trade deficit was $4.03 billion in 2002, $4.2 billion in 2003 and $4.3 billion in 2004.
3. On the Gini Coefficient, said to be the most reliable measure of inequality, the Philippines stands at 0.46 – the worst in Southeast Asia.
4. On the income ratio of the highest 20% to the lowest 20%, the Philippines rated 9.7 – again the lowest in Southeast Asia.
5. Unemployment worsened under Madame Arroyo, 11.1% in 2001, 11.4% in 2003 and 11.8% in 2004.
6. Official figures place our foreign debt at $56 billion. The ADB says that this has exceeded $63 billion in 2003. Under Madame Arroyo, debt service more than doubled from P274 billion in 2001 to P601 billion in 2004. Even government data now shows that debt service will more than double in 2006.
Since the earth-shaking revelations of the Garci tape, Macapagal-Arroyo has hardly done any governing to address urgent national concerns. Instead, she spends all the resources of government under her command, her energy and time to stall the coming of her end.
“Madame Arroyo won the 2004 elections fair and square and Namfrel and the surveys prove this.”
Namfrel failed to report over 10% of election returns (more than enough to overhaul Macapagal-Arroyo’s padded lead) and these are mostly from areas where FPJ led by comfortable margins. Even SWS head, Mahar Mangahas, admitted that their exit poll was erroneous.
I believe what Paul Dominguez, Macapagal-Arroyo’s former cabinet member and Mindanao adviser, told me a week after the voting. Even I then thought that the SWS exit poll was accurate so I congratulated him. The Mindanao insights that Paul shared with me were in my May 17, 2004 column (Poe may yet win the ’04 vote!). Paul knew that I was not an FPJ supporter (I was for Raul Roco who many now acknowledge as the best president we never had) and was among those who dreaded the negative effects of having another unqualified showbiz president – and so Paul felt comfortable in confiding that, in his assessment, FPJ may yet end up the winner.
Paul was convinced that FPJ was doing much better in Mindanao than expected and that Macapagal-Arroyo needed to win in Mindanao because her lead in the Visayas could not offset FPJ’s lead in Luzon. Paul’s son Miguel ran and won as Sarangani governor and, in that campaign, they conducted their own surveys and exit poll (not SWS). Paul said that FPJ got 14% more votes than their polls showed (in fact FPJ got 52% of the Sarangani vote) and he himself sensed that they were not getting an accurate reading from their own polls. Subsequent events would validate Paul’s assessment – the long count in Mindanao and cheating operation that the Garci tape divulged.
The erratic swings in pre-voting responses reflected the disruptive effect of dangling the carrot and stick on a people already living on the edge. Suddenly, the promise of access to basic services seemed within reach with such programs as health cards and Patubig (Water) Program. Barangay heads, fearing loss of benefits, egged voters to support Macapagal-Arroyo. Thus, survey responses reflected either a temporary sense of gratitude or fear of punishment, rather than the deep-seated, honest-to-goodness sentiment of the voter, rendering abnormal survey readings. The extraordinary number of voters who were undecided and inclined to change their mind underscored the softness of voter commitment to any one choice.
A week after the voting in 2004, the rest of the country – including Metro Manila – was reporting only at an average level of 55% of their respective election returns. Lo and behold, Region 7 was already reporting 94.45%! By no coincidence, Region 7 is where Macapagal-Arroyo maneuvered her biggest lead. Had Region 7 returns been reported only at a level of 65% (still higher than the average reporting level at that time), a trend favoring Macapagal-Arroyo could not have been established, thereby making the Mindanao ‘magic’ (that the Garci tape corroborates) more questionable.
The pattern of behavior of those involved in the making of the false president of 2004 says it all – the insistence to appoint Virgilio Garcillano who was a known vote-rigging operator, the rush to report the Region 7 vote results to create the illusion of a Macapagal-Arroyo lead trend, the long delay of the Mindanao count, the railroading of the proclamation in congress and all those “noteds” of Rep. Raul Gonzalez and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, the long period of Madame Arroyo’s silence when the Garci tape was released, the “I am sorry” damage control production, the massacre of the impeachment case, the current suppression of the freedom of assembly and the mechanisms for finding out the truth – all these are clear signs of the crime that was committed and a massive cover up to hide the truth and escape punishment.
Madame Arroyo and her minions would now question those who persist in seeking the truth and brand them as destabilizers who do not follow the rule of law. How can the very people who made a mockery of the law by suppressing the impeachment process, the venue for examining the stealing of the 2004 presidential election, now prescribe the rule of law? Madame Arroyo’s version of the ‘rule of law’ is nothing but a catch-22 in which a nation in search of the truth and closure gets nowhere.
“The bishops (in the Mendiola ‘cannonization’) are hypocrites and destabilizers”
Hypocrisy is the necessary trait of the fake president. Concerned only with political survival, nothing else matters, not the nation, not the poverty of Filipinos. That, under any definition is the biggest destabilizing element of this country. The unraveling of the Garci tape ruined our already fragile institutions. It did not even spare the religious sector in a dissension that is now ripping the nation apart. Talk about hypocrisy and destabilization – just look at her choice of cabinet appointees. Do you expect justice from Raul Gonzalez or security from Norberto Gonzales?
“Madame Arroyo has the full support of the AFP chain of command, the silent majority and the businessmen”
Street protests are neither massive nor alarming. Despite this, the fear, panic and desperation are most evident in the responses and reactions of Macapagal-Arroyo. What other reason could there be if not apprehension about the threat of junior officers to remove Macapagal-Arroyo. Add to that the fact that the majority does not like her and is not silent about this. In survey after survey, about 80% believe she stole the 2004 presidency and 65% want her ousted.
Another way to interpret those survey results is that the 80% who did not vote for her easily believe that she did not win. A person who really voted for Madame Arroyo is not easily moved to think that she stole the 2004 presidential election, especially with all the Alex Magnos and Winnie Monsods in media who are swearing to high heavens that she won fair and square.
Donald Dee does not speak for all the businessmen and speaks only for himself most of the time. Donald Dee was rendering the very same lip service for Joseph Estrada and even pleaded with the Council on Philippine Affairs (COPA) to allow Estrada to get off the hook less than a month before Estrada was ousted. He is likely to render the same service for whoever will replace Macapagal-Arroyo.
In a speech FVR delivered before the Makati Business Club (MBC), FINEX and the MAP, by far the biggest groups representing business, there was a thunderous applause every time FVR spoke about the imperatives of shortening the term of Macapagal-Arroyo. The MBC has time and again issued pronouncements against Macapagal-Arroyo’s policies, like CPR and EO 464, and was one of those who asked for her resignation.
Another text joke now doing the rounds suggests the appropriate words to put on Madame Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s epitaph: Here, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo lies still.
You may email William M. Esposo at: firstname.lastname@example.org