Why Arroyo will ride out the storm

Updated On: Jun 17, 2005

Manila – President Gloria Arroyo seems to be caught in the perfect political storm, one that has the potential to create another round of political instability in the Philippines at a time when it could least afford it. Still, many observers believe that she will survive: There will neither be People Power III nor a forced resignation at Malacanang. 

    For one thing, the country's most powerful groups - namely the military, the Roman Catholic Church and the business community - remain firmly behind her. 
    And the public outrage against Mrs Arroyo over the various scandals – from claims that she was personally involved in rigging the presidential elections to allegations that her relatives received kickbacks from illegal gambling operators – is unlikely to reach the level that triggered the street protests that toppled two presidents in the past. 
   The Philippine Star’s columnist, Mr  Max V. Soliven, said : “No matter how many tapped phone calls or "tapes" are "revealed" and aired, don’t think we can expect a convulsion; a climate of disgust may be created but nobody will move. Everybody’s exhausted by this non-stop litany of exposés, denunciations, and pontificating.”  
    Mr Soliven also pointed to the lack of a credible leader and plan in the opposition. "GMA is fortunate that those who plot her downfall don't come to the fore with clean hands. Nor can they offer our distressed and disillusioned nation leadership of a more inspiring kind. All the "cures" being offered appear worse than the disease."
    Still, there is no denying that Mrs Arroyo will need to do something fast to repair the serious damage that the scandals have done to her administration. 
    One way to do this is for Mrs Arroyo to force her son, Miguel, and her brother-in-law, Ignacio, to resign immediately from Congress, according to an analysis in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Both men have been accused of accepting payoffs from the operators of jueteng, a popular but illegal numbers game.  
    There are also suggestions that the President should keep her controversial husband, Mike, out of the public spotlight. 
    Writer Amando Doronila said: "Unless the public mood is grossly misread, it is no exaggeration to say that the public is clamouring for heads to roll and for blood on the sand – and  that means the heads of her relatives, not those of her Cabinet members. Axing her relatives is a stiff price to pay, but she has no choice. It's their heads or her own head will roll."

 * Tension ebbs after Arroyo’s son steps down (The Straits Times, June 15)

* Heads must roll (Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 15)

* A silly season (The Philippine Star, June 14)