How GMA can prevent future adventurism
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-12-04
The only way Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) can prevent any more attempts to abbreviate her reign is for her to walk the talk and for her to really work towards improving the economy, alleviating poverty and establishing a legacy.

This was exactly what I had commented to Alan Tanjusay of the Japanese paper Mainichi Shimbun who had asked for my assessment of the November 29 standoff at the Manila Peninsula.

Alan Tanjusay of the Mainichi Shimbun had always diligently sought my views each time there are troubling developments in the Philippine political scene. On this particular interview, Alan's questions revolved around three major issues surrounding the Peninsula Incident:

1. What caused the Peninsula incident?

2. Who was/were responsible for the State overkill?

3. How can GMA prevent similar incidents from happening?

What caused the incident?

The Peninsula incident was a natural consequence of the heavy beatings suffered by the Arroyo regime from many quarters arising from negative developments, revelations of scandals in succession, GMA's lowest survey ratings and the on-going intramurals within the administration coalition.

Most notable of these factors were:

1. The recent ZTE scandal and the subsequent two bribery incidents related to the ZTE mess.

2. GMA registered her worst public satisfaction ratings.

3. Catholic Bishops called the Arroyo regime morally bankrupt, a situation that provides an ouster move the moral high ground.

4. The third suppression of an impeachment case against GMA which then encourages the use of other, more severe options.

5. Serious cracks in the ruling coalition — the rift with House Speaker Joe de Venecia — which also invites attempts to challenge and topple it.

6. The high handedness of AFP Chief General Hermogenes Esperon which has already caused a walkout in the trial of military officers who were charged for the February 24, 2006 misadventure.

7. The Filipinos were reeling from the effects of natural disasters and the skyrocketing of prices induced by the high cost of oil in the world market.

Who was/were responsible for the government overkill?

By command responsibility and by sheer association with past Heinrich Himmler-like methods — DILG Secretary Ronnie Puno must take responsibility.

The PNP that undertook the assault at the Peninsula reports to Ronnie Puno. Puno is not only DILG Secretary but also the chief political adviser now of GMA.

Prior to the Peninsula Incident, Puno was also identified as the chief architect of the equally brutal assault on the Iloilo Capitol, the attempt to unseat Iloilo Governor Neil Tupas. Puno was also reported to be the instigator of the Gestapo-like assault on the Makati City Hall shortly before the May 2007 elections when the regime sought to unseat Makati City Mayor Jojo Binay.

A DILG Secretary like Ronnie Puno who seems to subscribe to the 'best practices' of Nazi Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler can only bring out the most bestial fascist character of our PNP storm troopers.

How can GMA prevent similar incidents from happening?

As mentioned, GMA must walk her talk — improve the economy, alleviate poverty and attend to her legacy. She must strive to be above the political fray — in deed and not just by pronouncement.

Had the Arroyo regime been scandal-free and instead improved its credibility after the May elections, none of these factors that invite adventurism would have emerged.

The Opposition would have been busy preparing for the 2010 presidential elections. There would have been no occasion for an impeachment case to surface and become another thorny issue. That devastating tag of moral bankruptcy — the result of the scandals — would have been avoided.

High prices would not have been as big an issue had it not been for all the other issues hounding GMA. High prices can easily be attributed to current oil prices in the world market, an external factor.

But save for the high cost of oil, all the other factors that we’ve mentioned as promoters of adventurism are self-inflicted political wounds of the Arroyo regime. Not only that, GMA's credibility problem casts serious doubts that she’ll willingly cede power in 2010.

Instead of encouraging the Opposition to channel their energies to the 2010 presidential elections, GMA prods the more militant of them to plan unconventional moves in order to offset her perceived plans to remain in power beyond 2010.

Not wishing to be seen as a lame duck ruler, there are hints of another attempt at Charter change. A Comelec that has been loaded with regime loyalists strongly suggests that GMA plans to stay in control beyond 2010.

The more her political opponents are convinced that GMA intends to rule beyond 2010, the more they will want to drive her out before 2010 comes. Every scandal that breaks out will be adding fodder to energize her adversaries' intent to maximize her political loss and destabilize her hold on power.

If indeed the presidential wannabes were really poised to only compete against each other, their preparation would have been concentrated on logistics development and organization.

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