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.
The most recent reason for doubt over her legitimacy was the refusal of the majority in Congress to accede to even the most reasonable request during the canvass, and its recourse to those legal technicalities which, while validating the status of its most prominent members as lawyers, did little to erase suspicions that the administration was hiding something.
Prior to and during the congressional canvass, there were also all those nasty reports about the disenfranchisement of as many as 33 percent of the electorate, of election-related killings, of elections not having taken place in some localities, of ballot boxes being stuffed, of military and police officers acting as vote canvassers at the precinct level, and even of missing Certificates of Canvass right in the premises of the House of Representatives.
Of equal relevance is the use of government resources and facilities for Mrs. Arroyo