Why GMA takes great risks with Cha cha
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-11-25

Compared to the corruption scandals of the Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime, former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s sins would appear to be venial.

Thaksin was found guilty of corruption on account of a sweetheart deal. But Thaksin’s controversial transaction does not compare to the billions being made here on account of ghost projects, overpricing of projects (in order to include kickbacks) and outright shakedowns similar to Mafia extortion.

Thaksin did not elevate Thailand to a world class corrupt country just as we are now recognized as the top in our region and ranked fifth most corrupt in the world. Neither was Thaksin notorious for human rights violations and suppression of press freedom.

GMA may have panicked when word got out that Thaksin might come here after being expelled from the United Kingdom. Perhaps she feared that Thaksin’s presence will become a hot topic in both the local and international media. One wise guy can easily quip: “One bird of the same feather hosts another.”

If it gets enough international attention, who knows — it might become a hot topic on the US late-night comedy shows. Saturday Night Live might even find some vertically challenged actress to play Gloria in the same manner that Tina Fey made a franchise of playing Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Imagine David Letterman, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Jay Leno giving GMA this level of attention — something that only Imelda Marcos and her famous shoes got.

And it is not only media mileage GMA missed. She failed to see that granting Thaksin sanctuary here could jumpstart a new industry for the country — that of attracting huge amounts of hidden wealth by making the Philippines a crook’s safe haven ala Switzerland.

The media mileage that Thaksin’s entry will generate is the perfect timing for announcing this new industry for all the shadowy characters who own the big hidden wealth in the world. We are looking here at easily a trillion dollars pouring into the country.

The Philippine Stock Exchange could become one of the most vibrant in Asia — previously unthinkable. GMA’s Trade Secretary, Peter Favila, won’t have to work so hard with the influx of a lot of money (potential capital/investors) into the country.

Sayang (a pity), GMA panicked instead of grabbing the opportunity. I say this of course tongue-in-cheek but what I will now say is not.

One misses out on great opportunities when one is ruled by obsession or fear. In the case of GMA, I think that a lot of her actions are guided by either obsession or fear. Specifically, these are the obsession with power and the fear of a violent ouster.

I do believe that the May 1, 2001 assault on Malacañang Palace by a mob that was incited by now GMA allies Juan Ponce Enrile and Miriam Santiago left a deep scar in her psyche.

Of course, that is quite understandable. Who would ever forget the experience if such an assault was made on your domicile? I am sure GMA was imagining on May 1, 2001 the fall of Ferdinand Marcos and what would have happened to him if the mob that stormed Malacañang Palace in February 25, 1986 captured Marcos and his family.

Who can forget that video of an angry man violently banging a portrait of Marcos after the people took over the Palace? Many who saw that on television felt that if the angry man caught up with Marcos, he would be doing the same on his person.

Couple this fear with an obsession for power and you can imagine and appreciate better why GMA allies are pushing Charter change (Cha cha) again instead of focusing on using the remaining months of her term to close with something better than George W. Bush. Who will not suspect that this Congress signature drive, Jess Dureza’s ‘unholy’ prayer and Juan Ponce-Enrile’s Senate Presidency are all part of a grand Cha cha scheme?

Fear and obsession can easily make a person overlook the grave danger lurking in a given situation. Because of her fear of a violent ouster and her obsession with power which combine to determine her thinking and courses of action, GMA may have overlooked the very real possibility that an attempt to retain power via Cha cha could result in what she fears most.

Having also survived so many crises since May 1, 2001, GMA may have been lulled into complacency – forgetting that there is a real deep-seated dissatisfaction of the majority out there that can bust the dam.

GMA may have forgotten that she is very unpopular and that most Filipinos want to see her replaced in 2010. GMA may have forgotten that many Filipinos are hungry and nothing promotes a political upheaval better than hunger.

GMA may have forgotten that Catholic Bishops have shifted from mere criticism to calls for outright ouster. Recently, two major business groups — the MBC and the MAP — joined the Bishops’ call. She may have forgotten that the AFP is divided.

Most of all, GMA may have lost sight of the fact that there are two superpowers to reckon with — the US and China — whose geopolitical interests are tied up with the Philippines. Any of the two superpowers can easily support a political overthrow here if that suited their national interests.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo