Manila – Philippine President Gloria Arroyo seems to have survived the worst of the opposition’s attempts to unseat her after a protest rally on July 13 fizzled out. The rally had been touted as the final test of public sentiment and an indicator of whether the opposition could muster enough support to oust Mrs Arroyo in a people-power revolt similar to those that had deposed two presidents in the past.
In the end, between 30,000 and 35,000 attended the rally, far below the one million target set by the rally organisers. The crowd was a mix of leftist factory workers, students and star-struck supporters of defeated presidential candidate, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr, and of former President Joseph Estrada, a movie star friend of Poe.
"This only proves that the groups seeking her ouster have more acoustics than force,” said Arroyo adviser Alex Magno.
While the relatively poor turnout at the rally will encourage Mrs Arroyo to cling to power, she is still not out of the woods yet.
The President's credibility – and ability to govern effectively – has been battered by a series of scandals arising from vote-rigging and corruption allegations against her and her family.
Her opponents now want to take the fight to Congress, where they plan to seek impeachment over allegations of vote-rigging in the May 2004 presidential election.
Some analysts said Mrs Arroyo's ultimate fate hinges on the state of the economy, which is grappling with an unemployment rate of more than 11 per cent and a national debt of US$69 billion.
The Philippine Star's columnist, Mr Max V Soliven, said: "In the end, GMA's staying power will be demonstrated by what she does.
"Let's see what happens in the build up to her SONA – her coming 'State of the Nation' address when Congress reconvenes on July 25. Whether she surmounts all attacks and gets to deliver that SONA, unruffled, will give all of us a picture of the State of Gloria."
* The anti-GMA rally was impressively large: But too many there actually hated each other (The Philippine Star, July 14)
* Protest rally fizzles out (The Manila Times, July 14)