July 29, 2005
FROM THE BARREL OF MY PEN
By Gonzalo “Jun” Policarpio
VISION OF TWO PRESIDENTS BEHIND BARS
On television, they appeared to be a group of battery-operated clapping robots programmed to stand up about thirty times led by Speaker Jose de Venecia following about thirty lines of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address last week at the Batasang Pambansa(Congress of the Philippines). Indeed there was nothing to applaud in Arroyo’s cacophony of political and economic pretensions.
Those who pushed Arroyo in her speech focus on the idea of changing the Philippine Constitution and the form of government to a federal system without mentioning a bit about her impending removal from office must be practitioners of the magician’s sleight of hand trick. But they failed. Once again, it is very hard to fool the people all the time. The people’s clamor for Arroyo’s resignation even shifted to second gear.
Pulse Asia, a reliable opinion research group, reported in its July 2-14 survey that 73 percent of Filipinos want President Arroyo out of Malacanang through resignation, impeachment, snap elections or even unconstitutional means. What they now have in the Philippines is a self-imposed president who wants to rule without the consent of the governed. In a democracy, if the governed is extremely unhappy with the government leaders, they have the right to change them by whatever means possible, not the form of government. The issue of charter change in order to adopt a new form of government is not a solution to Arroyo’s unpopular leadership. The best solution so far is for President Arroyo to undergo a full examination of conscience as suggested by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and “CUT IT CLEANLY” Marcos style.
When Arroyo acting in concert with Chief Justice Hilario Davide grabbed the presidency from Estrada on January 20, 2001 following protest demonstrations at EDSA, she said “The president has not only lost moral authority to govern, but now has no government.” Fast forward January 20, 2006, another politician may utter similar statements and proclaim himself “the new commander –in-chief” of the Philippine Armed Forces. So the vision of two former Philippine presidents put behind bars is not a remote possibility.
About the author: He is the first Asian American and Filipino American to run for the U.S. Congress from New York in 2004. He is retired officer of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigrations Services. He worked as intelligence analyst in the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs Division of Intelligence and Research from 1968 to 1972 until Marcos imposed Martial Law. He taught at the University of Manila School of Foreign Service from 1968 to 1973 until he immigrated to the United States as an alien with outstanding qualifications. He has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from New York University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Foreign Service from the University of the Philippines.