By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo
“Con-Ass” and the people’s wrath
The anti-Charter change (Chacha) and anti-Arroyo forces had barely a week
to mount the muscle-flexing protest action yesterday in Ayala Avenue,
Makati City and in major urban centers nationwide. They achieved a big
measure of success by gathering thousands in Makati and hundreds if not
thousands more in various cities and big towns nationwide. They displayed
broad participation by the organizations of the basic sectors among the
working people, the civic, professional and artist groups, the Catholic
religious congregations and some bishops, the protestant churches, the
opposition leaders and parties, and government officials and
military/police officers critical of the Arroyo regime.
Earlier mini-protests erupted in various parts of Metro Manila and “viral”
protest spread as well in the virtual world of the internet giving a
foretaste of what could lie ahead for the Arroyo clique as it schemes,
manipulates and buys its ways to staying in power beyond 2010, the
Constitutionally-mandated end of GMA’s term in office.
There is no denying that a vast majority of the people have had enough of
Mrs.Arroyo and her ilk. The crimes of her regime just keep mounting
despite the many times that she has been caught red-handed. She has
willfully ignored calls for accountability by the people, by the political
opposition, religious and business leaders and even by the international
community appalled at rampant human rights violations.
Shamelessly, Mrs. Arroyo has clung to power; she has refused to resign.
She has used emergency rule and various other draconian measures including
extrajudicial killings, militarization of rural and urban poor
communities, illegal arrest and detention and the filing of trumped-up
criminal charges against her perceived enemies, to prevent her ouster
through popular uprising.
Mrs. Arroyo and her clique have come up against Constitutional term limits
that makes her stepping down from power a given. She could appoint a loyal
and pliant presidential candidate for the national elections in 2010 and
utilize all the dirty tricks in the books (and some she has invented) to
make that candidate “win” in order to buy political insurance for herself
and her cohorts. The same way she preempted every impeachment move by
buying off the “honorable” members of the HOR; the way she squelched every
investigation into anomalies of her administration by appointing a
subservient Ombudsman; and the way she stopped every attempt to pry open
inquiry into the most scandalous of corrupt government deals by her hold
on the Supreme Court, majority of whom are her appointees.
But obviously that isn’t enough to ensure protection from being haled to
court once she loses her presidential immunity. Similarly, she cannot
predict where the political winds may blow once out of power; political
debts can be easily forgotten or overtaken by the pressing concerns of the
new administration whose own interests may no longer coincide with that of
This is the real reason for the desperate, despicable and brazenly
unconstitutional move called “Con-Ass”, recently railroaded by Mrs.
Arroyo’s allies in the House of Representatives (HOR), by the mere
expedient of a majority vote on House Resolution 1109 sponsored by no less
than Speaker Prospero Nograles. H.R. 1109 empowers Congress to convene as
a constituent assembly in order to revise the Philippine Constitution by
two thirds of all congressmen and senators voting jointly. And since the
more than 200 members of the Lower House vastly outnumber the 24 members
of the Senate, this bogus Constituent Assembly can be convened and make
revisions in the Charter even without a single senator participating.
The illegal and fake Constituent Assembly, packed by Arroyo allies whose
compliance to her marching orders are ensured by millions-worth of
incentives, will undertake the shift to a parliamentary system from the
current presidential system. In this way, Mrs. Arroyo can run as a
representative in her congressional district and manipulate her way into
becoming prime minister later on by simply buying off the majority of
members of parliament.
Time and so many legal impediments seem to make this scenario untenable.
Still, all the moves of Mrs. Arroyo and her allies constitute an
undeniable trail of deception, lies, maneuvers, buy-offs and quid-pro-quos
that point the way to this as the major ploy of the Arroyo clique.
Despite Mrs. Arroyo’s posturing that the merger of the two political
parties loyal to her, the Lakas-CMD and Kampi, is proof positive that the
2010 presidential elections are pushing through as scheduled, the truth is
such a merger party is precisely what Mrs. Arroyo will use to bamboozle
the opposition once she moves to get the prime minister position in a new
For someone supposedly so focused on the business of running the country,
Mrs. Arroyo has noticeably gone on frequent sorties into her hometown and
adjoining towns, part of the Congressional district in Pampanga where she
will likely run for congressperson. Now why should a former president of
the country be interested in running for the lowly post of a
congressperson if this isn’t the stepping stone to the most powerful post
in a parliamentary form of government?
Will the fear of the people’s wrath give pause to Mrs. Arroyo and her evil
cabal of plotters? At this point it is clear that this hardly is the case.
The Arroyo clique has taken an important lesson from the Marcos
Dictatorship on what are crucial to achieve their Machiavellian designs.
First is to secure the backing of the United States government (it will
give the “democratic” imprimatur to the recycled Arroyo regime via Con-Ass
and shift to parliamentary system). Then ensure the loyalty of the
military and police generals; the blessings of enough voices among the
church hierarchy and big business community; and the chorus of servile
“ayes” from so-called parliamentarians and local government officials
fattened by pork barrel and other perks.
The Arroyo clique is betting that the elite classes who rule this country
and the lone Super Power, the US of A, can be enticed to see things its
way; that is, the Arroyo clique’s narrow interests as key to protecting
and upholding their own immediate and strategic interests. For example,
apart from changing the Charter in order to make possible Mrs. Arroyo’s
continuing hold on the reigns of power in this country, Mrs. Arroyo uses
as bait constitutional amendments that will allow foreign investors to
acquire ownership and control over all natural resources and economic
enterprises to the extent of 100 per cent and to sell out the economic
sovereignty and national patrimony of the Filipino people.
US and other foreign military forces are to be allowed unrestricted stay
and operations in the Philippines not just by means of the RP-US Visiting
Forces Agreement (VFA) but by Constitutional fiat. Many of the
constitutional provisions against the basing of foreign military forces
and nuclear, chemical, biological and other weapons of mass destruction on
Philippine soil are under threat of being excised from the basic law of
the land. The Arroyo regime also wants to remove the constitutional
restraints on martial law, emergency rule and violations of human rights.
It seeks to undermine formal guarantees of civil and political liberties
in the bill of rights achieved in the wake of the people’s victory over
the US- backed Marcos dictatorship.
One lesson that the Arroyo clique has obviously failed to learn is that
the inevitable ending for dictators and would-be dictators in this country
and elsewhere in the world is the dust-bin of history. The people’s wrath
and courageous, persistent mass struggles will definitely see to that. #