Gloria must now consider her egress scenario
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-04-24
With the recent confluence of events, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) ought to start considering her remaining options. Regardless of whether one is supportive or critical of GMA, the fact is that the fate of our already fragile democracy is now on Gloria’s shoulders.

In previous columns, I had cautioned about Gloria’s tendency to outdo herself when trying to avert ouster threats. She has reinvented old survival strategies of the politically untenable through PP1017, CPR, EO 464 and whatever else. Yet Gloria is now even closer to being impeached than she had been two years ago when her congressional allies scuttled the first impeachment case.

Surveys show the Opposition with highly favorable ratings in the congressional and senate races and there is a strong possibility that over 80 Opposition congressmen may be elected. This scenario clearly points to an impeachment case in the works — with Congress elevating the matter to its successful conclusion in the Opposition-dominated Senate.

The regime can trigger the flashpoint if it tries to thwart election results. Election cheating in the Snap Election of 1986 triggered the People Power Revolt and this election may well be the last peaceful recourse of the nation to resolve the crisis that was spawned by the ugly revelations of the Garci Tapes.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that even the foreign investors and the international community are strongly emphasizing the need for honest, fair, clean and credible elections. And yet, sadly, the biggest signs that this objective is being undermined are the highly-suspicious actuations of the Comelec (Commission on Elections) itself.

It is important for Gloria to now begin to separate her obligations to the country from the personal interests of her own allies. Gloria should now focus on only two things — her legacy and her exit mechanism. Gloria has served more than enough the personal interests of those who have kept her in power — people like Ronnie Puno, Raul Gonzalez, Eddie Ermita, General Hermogenes Esperon, former police generals Hermogenes Ebdane and Leandro Mendoza and so forth.

It will be the height of folly to think that their "unholy alliance" can still pull another reprieve from the imminent judgment of the Filipino people. That would be tempting the fates and inviting aberrant courses of action from a people who have reached the boiling point of frustration.

Puno, Gonzalez, Ermita, Esperon, Ebdane, Mendoza et al will of course resist that prospect of losing what they already have. Of course they will try to convince Gloria that they can still pull it off. We can even expect them to try to create a scenario that would justify putting the country in an emergency state.

The nation and the international community will not buy any of that. Gloria must see through that and resist that by all means. Such a scenario will only place her and her family under worse conditions of threat and harm.

With the level of public outrage now being manifested through various surveys, with hunger stalking 1 out of every 5 families, with over 50% of Filipinos seeing themselves as poor — it is safe to say that the next People Power uprising will likely be more violent than ever imagined. With easily 50-60% against her and her own military and police forces not totally under her control — Gloria can only provoke her greatest nightmare.

Gloria will do well to see the recent medical setback of her husband as perhaps the Lord’s way of allowing her a way to do what is best for country, something that had been unthinkable two weeks ago. Mike’s condition now allows Gloria a way out that both her allies and political opponents will have to respect.

It is regrettable that the Opposition had failed to unite behind a force that would have excluded Joseph Estrada and his political allies. Joseph Estrada forms Gloria’s greatest fears. If Estrada is freed and gets to become a major power player, he will pose a very grave threat to GMA and her family. There has been too much bad blood between the Estradas and Arroyos for Gloria to feel safe in an Opposition takeover where Joseph Estrada is a major influence.

An Opposition composed of Manny Villar, Mar Roxas, Noynoy Aquino, Frank Drilon et al is an Opposition that Gloria can comfortably negotiate transition with. Gloria can see herself accepting the inevitable if the Opposition that will take over does not pose a serious threat to her and her immediate family.

Remove Estrada from the equation and Gloria may see herself negotiating a transition of power to the vice president who will then become the bridge to the next presidential elections. Such a turnover is definitely more palatable if the prospect of impeachment is the looming alternative.
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