The unity thing

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Unity’s the theme of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo inauguration, and its companion, reconciliation, the mantra of the new-old administration.

Although these are buzzwords rarely meant, the call for both is nevertheless meaningful. It implies recognition of a state of division serious enough to worry the Arroyo administration, and which it hopes it can paper over to prevent the destabilization that’s widely predicted could happen in the aftermath of the May 10 elections. Continue reading

Reinventing Arroyo

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Congress in joint session proclaimed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Noli de Castro President and Vice President of the Philippines at dawn the other day. It was the end of a process whose outcome, for all the debate that went on in the last three weeks, was anyway predestined by the overwhelming numbers of the administration coalition.

Not all is over except the shouting, however. There is little proof of fraud vast enough to affect the outcome of the presidential and vice presidential elections. But Mrs. Arroyo and de Castro will nevertheless take their seats under a cloud of doubt as to their mandate. Unless Mrs. Arroyo plays her cards right, any hope for stability in the next six years will be futile. Continue reading

Iraqis first, Americans last

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George W. Bush, says a New York Times editorial, should apologize to the American people for making them believe that Saddam Hussein had links with the terrorist network Al Qaeda, which the United States says was responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks.

As if the rest of the world didn

EDSA and other quick fixes

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President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s claim that the May 10 elections have restored the power of the ballot as an instrument of democratic change, in contrast to the “power of the street,” was as specious and wishful as her claim that the same elections would lead to unity, poverty alleviation, and progress.

What is more likely is that what happened in the May elections has not only undermined the ballot as the major instrument of regime change in this country. It might have also strengthened faith not only in People Power but also in other extra-constitutional options including coups, uprisings, riots and the like. These possibilities seriously undermine the possibility of the unity, much less the progress, Mrs. Arroyo alluded to in her Independence Day speech last Saturday. Continue reading

Independence day

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Independence day comes at a critical time this year.

It’s not just because the country still doesn’t have a president-elect thirty-one days after the elections, and is unlikely to have one when Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo’s term—actually Estrada’s unfinished, 1998 mandate—ends on June 30.

Filipinos are also reeling from the steady spiral of oil-product prices, which, besides making transport more expensive, is also fueling an inflation rate, already accelerating because of election spending, that’s the highest in three years. Continue reading

Plots and conspiracies

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Someone should be, or should have been, advising the leaders of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the fine arts of public relations.

Since the week after the May 10 elections, both have been talking about “destabilization plots” and even coup attempts involving—of course—the usual suspects in the opposition, the protest groups and even the New People’s Army. Continue reading

Scare tactics plus

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In an echo of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s statement that “the people are impatient,” House Speaker Jose de Venecia said the other day that “the people are tired.” De Venecia was reacting to the usual procedural and other questions from the opposition re the canvassing of the presidential and vice presidential ballots.

Perhaps Mrs. Arroyo and the Speaker both took a survey to gauge the people’s mood. But I don’t personally know anyone who’s tired in the sense that he or she just wants to get the congressional canvass over and done with—meaning he or she doesn’t want anyone asking such questions as why the padlock of this ballot box looks as if it’s been cut with a bolt-cutter, or where the Certificate of Canvas for Camarines Norte could be hiding. Continue reading