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News :: International
Oust Philippine President Gloria Arroyo and dismantle elite politics
06 Aug 2005
The release of the ‘Hello Garci’ tapes marks the unraveling of a corrupt and bankrupt electoral system. With an undeniable evidence of the President’s attempts to manipulate the results of the 2004 elections, existing questions on the legitimacy and credibility of the Presidency and the 2004 electoral exercise due to voters’ disenfranchisement and allegations of vote padding and shaving have been bolstered and confirmed. It is precisely because of the obvious grave flaws in the electoral system that Akbayan registered a vote of ‘principle abstention’ during the last Presidential canvass in Congress and why we have been pushing for serious electoral reforms.
The response from the government has been to restore and strengthen an untenable and unjust status quo by obstructing efforts to establish the truth. From the repressive attempts of the NBI and the DOJ to block the spread and public playing of the tapes to the June 27, 2005 speech of “contrition” of the President, it is clear that this regime has fully lost its credibility and legitimacy to provide an impartial investigation of the allegations of electoral fraud. Her apology, which was given without any categorical answer to the allegations of electoral fraud, has neither mitigated her culpability nor lessened the urgency of exacting accountability from her.

While the President called for major constitutional changes to over-haul the political system, she refuses to recognize that she herself is a cause and a product of the same bankrupt system. The withdrawal of support from key Cabinet members whose mass resignation was preempted by Malacanang is a major highlight in the unraveling of the existing political system. With her questionable integrity, we simply cannot allow the President to lead the process of reforming our political system.

Arroyo must step down now!

We now have a full-blown crisis of political legitimacy brought about by the massive erosion of the President's political and moral authority to govern. If Pres. Arroyo truly has the national interest at heart, she should step down immediately because:
First, Pres. Arroyo's continued stay in power is fueling unrest, set the stage for prolonged political anarchy and possibly, an economic meltdown. The instability that the President herself is causing encourages military adventurism, especially from those who have been accused of rigging the 2004 elections, and a political climate conducive for the establishment a military junta.
Second, the President’s manipulation of government institutions for her own political survival will only bury the truth behind the tapes and the 2004 elections in the same manner that any purported reforms coming the President will only be guided solely by her desire to stay in power.
Third, the plight of ordinary Filipinos, especially the majority poor, has worsened and will continue to worsen under Pres. Arroyo's watch. Pres. Arroyo's unswerving support for the deregulation and privatization of our petroleum, power, water and agricultural resources, plus a host of other neo-liberal prescriptions, have made more Filipinos hungry, jobless and hopeless.
The status quo cannot continue

In the middle of this crisis, we are being made to believe that we only have the following choices: to endure a deceitful Arroyo administration, to believe that succession as the only acceptable and immediate solution, to allow the return of the dissipated Estrada gang or to revert to military or authoritarian rule. Akbayan rejects these options because none of them will bring forth the radical changes that we need if we are to move forward as a nation. Constitutional reform under the current regime is tainted with electoral fraud and motivated by an elitist desire to stay in power. Constitutional succession through the installation of Vice-President Noli de Castro, on the other hand, without any clear agenda for systemic change will only replicate what took place after the EDSA Dos. AKBAYAN believes that both are mere attempts by the political elite to reconsolidate what is essentially an unjust and undemocratic political structure.

The political bankruptcy of the current administration and the doubts cast by the May 2004 polls to the credibility of the entire electoral process reveal not only the capacity of the political elite to thwart the will of the people but also the serious inadequacies and infirmities of the existing political system. These imperfections restrict the political power to traditional politicians, in the same manner that amidst the ongoing crisis, it limits the country’s options to a musical chair between and among the equally corrupt personalities and groups from the political elite.

The way forward

Hence, more than the mere replacement of the existing government, the crisis requires a full system change. Akbayan proposes the establishment of a process to create a broader and democratic national consensus, which could take the shape of a progressive transition government that is not limited by the infirmities of the existing political order. The task of this political mechanism is two-fold: first, to implement and accelerate long-delayed political and redistributive reforms, particularly to improve our electoral system, carry out the state’s obligation to agrarian reform, and recognition of the right to self-determination and genuine peace in Mindanao; and second, restructure existing economic policies to eliminate debt and corruption and prioritize basic social services. This national consensus should also pave the way to a constitutional convention and fresh elections for the creation of a new and truly representative constitutional order.

The survival of the nation depends on the establishment of a political order that promotes democratization of political power and economic wealth. Let us not allow ourselves to be trapped in a deplorable game between trapos, but instead make this crisis a tool for social transformation and national rebirth.

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