THEN Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo replaced ousted President Joseph Estrada in 2001. But they have more in common than it seems. Both are the heads of their respective political dynasties. And both are running for public office this year–she for the second congressional district of Pampanga, to which she was elected in 2010, and he for Mayor of Manila.
Convicted of plunder in September 2007, but pardoned by Arroyo a month later, Estrada ran for President in 2010, and, among the nine candidates for the post that year, came in as second to Benigno Aquino III. Estrada amassed more than nine million votes out of the 38 million voter turnout, compared to Aquino III’s 15 million votes. There but for Aquino, the Philippines would have had another Estrada Presidency, despite his ouster through direct citizen action in 2001 and subsequent conviction.
The worst may be over — for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her gang of marauders.
That at least is what regime consiglieri Norberto Gonzales — a man for others if there ever was one — believes. Otherwise known by his official title of National Security Adviser, Gonzales, having apparently pondered deeply on the current state of Mrs. Arroyo’s chances of hanging on to her office — i.e., on her security — claims that she’s likely to stay on, although attempts to unseat her will continue till the end of the year.
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has the support of the mayors of 77 cities, the governors of 52 provinces, the generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) hierarchy, her Cabinet secretaries, and those fabled bishops of the Catholic Church whose influence caused the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to issue its pathetic pastoral letter last February 26. As for the House of Representatives, no one should be under the illusion that the vast majority of its members are any different.
That at least is what the news report on these worthies’ “unity walks” and “statements of support” say, and that’s most probably indeed the case — for now. But it doesn’t mean that the members of Mrs. Arroyo’s current chorus of supporters (many of whom, if we’re to believe popular lore, are bought and paid for) won’t shift allegiances once it becomes clear that the days of her majesty’s rule are numbered.