The onslaught of corruption allegations against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA), her husband, son and son-in-law, that surfaced in the past few weeks looks like a well-orchestrated campaign to topple the Arroyo administration. Barely 12 months into her six-year term, President Arroyo finds herself described by opinion polls as the most unpopular leaders since late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. She has been accused by the opposition of rigging the elections, and her husband, son and son-in-law have allegedly been involved in protections payoffs from illegal gambling syndicates.
The media frenzy that has been cooked up has sown the seeds of mistrust towards the Arroyo administration. It is also fuelling talks of coup, or another People’s Power uprising. Calls for Arroyo to resign have intensified, but she is hitting back by dismissing all charges against her and her family as part of a destabilization plot. However, this is not enough to save her administration. Arroyo must do more and act fast to prevent another media circus that might bring the nation to the brink of dissolution.
Fortunately for Arroyo, the officers and enlisted men of Luzon’s biggest Army division has pledged loyalty to her government, and the US Charge d’Affaires has openly supported GMA’s government and downplayed fears of an impending coup attempt against the government.
However, the bigger issue underlying the fate of Philippines is the inability of political elites in the country to look beyond narrow self interests to collectively pull the country out of poverty and corruption. These two issues would continue to plague the country, stunt its economic development and stifle the country’s ability to deal effectively with armed resistance groups which in turn are sources of instability also for the Southeast Asian region.
* Corruption is unraveling the Philippines (Inquirer News Services 11 June 2005)
* US standing by Arroyo, says she’s not at risk (Inquirer News Services 11 June 2005)
* Whither Republic (The Manila Times, 11 June 2005)
* Army division backs President (The Manila Times, 11 June 2005)