Sunday, July 10, 2005

Gloria is going down

I repost this from another blog for those reading this blog and who have not stumbled upon this info. summarized, GMA's governance is now crumbling from within.

INSIDE PCIJ: Stories behind our stories
End game
July 8, 2005 @ 6:30 pm · Posted by Yvonne Chua
Filed under In the News
by Sheila S. Coronel and Yvonne T. Chua

THE most serious blow that has so far hit the
presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has come not
from the opposition but from within the heart of Mrs.
Arroyo's Cabinet.

The resignation this morning of eight Cabinet members
and two senior revenue officials took the political
initiative out of Congress and raised the issue to a
higher level. The question now is no longer just the
president's probable involvement in electoral fraud.
It has been elevated to Mrs. Arroyo's ability to
govern, given the "cloud of doubt and mistrust" that
hangs over her presidency.

By resigning, the Cabinet secretaries have outflanked
MalacaƱang and Congress. They are pushing the path
away from impeachment, which they believe would be
long and costly, and toward resignation and a
relatively quick and painless transition.

They are also fending off other options, such as
former President Fidel Ramos's proposal for a
constitutional assembly and a presidential election to
be scheduled next year. At the same time, they are
seizing the initiative from the opposition and
stalling extraconstitutional moves toward "regime

Not that the president did not see the blow from her
Cabinet coming. She did, and last night's statement
was precisely a preemptive strike.

But Mrs. Arroyo herself, through her intransigence,
brought the current crisis to a roiling boil. After
all, the Cabinet secretaries who announced their
resignation this morning did not make their intention

When 12 members of the Cabinet met with the President
in the evening of June 24, they already told her that
the presidency was suffering from a crisis of
credibility that required swift, surgical measures,
among them, an admission of guilt and an apology for
the conversations in the "Hello Garci" tapes; the
banishment from political life of her husband, son and
brother-in-law; the removal from government of
appointees associated with the First Gentleman; and
the implementation of reforms to shield the poor from
the impact of higher taxes and skyrocketing oil

During that meeting, the "doves" in the Cabinet even
suggested that the President should consider all of
them resigned so that she could have a free hand in
reorganizing the government to rid it of the unsavory
characters associated with Mr. Arroyo. Among those
present at the meeting were Defense Secretary Avelino
Cruz, Education Secretary Florencio Abad Jr., Trade
Secretary Juan Santos, Finance Secretary Cesar
Purisima, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman,
Budget Secetary Emilia Boncodin, Labor Secretary
Patricia Sto. Tomas, Science Secretary Estrella
Alabastro, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla,
presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita
Deles and Communications Director Silvestre Afable.
(Some of the "doves" like Sto. Tomas and Lotilla
tendered their resignation today, but stopped short of
calling for the president's resignation.)

In the June 24 meeting, the president was unyielding.
"I'm not changing my stand on this," she told her
secretaries. She said she was following the advice of
her legal advisers, who were competent and
independent-minded. But she also promised to consider
the demands.

On June 27, Mrs. Arroyo gave her famous "I am sorry"
speech. Frustrated by what they thought was a
half-hearted apology, the "doves" met with her again
right after that announcement. It was, they said, a
lengthy get-together that lasted from 9 p.m, to

After that, the Cabinet secretaries converged in the
home of Defense Secretary Cruz, where they talked till
3 a.m. They were all deeply disappointed with the
President's stubbornness and her sense that things
were going back to normal when all of them thought the
country was teetering on the brink.

Things came to a head in the executive session of the
Cabinet that took place on Tuesday, July 5. The
"doves" were shocked when the President said she
regretted her June 27 apology. "She felt she got more
flak than sympathy," said one Cabinet secretary then.
"She was in a way telling us, I didn't get anything
from apologizing." The secretaries realized that the
admission wasn't done with contriteness nor did the
president intend to come clean on the charges in the
Garci tape.

For many among the "doves," this was the last straw.
It became very clear to most of them that the
president put her political survival above everything
else and that the next five years of her presidency
would be consumed by the imperatives of her survival.

Not that they didn't have an inkling of this already.
The women Cabinet members, many of whom had been with
Mrs. Arroyo since the start of her presidency, had
already felt deep unease about the president's
leadership style and the way government programs were
being compromised to advance Mrs. Arroyo's personal
political agenda.

The economic secretaries, meanwhile, were getting
increasingly worried that their reform programs were
being frustrated by the wheeling-dealing of the First
Gentleman and his associates. The campaign against
smuggling, for example, was being derailed by the
apparent protection the "FG" and his men were giving
to businesspeople believed to be associated with

When the Supreme Court declared a temporary
restraining order (TRO) on the implementation of the
newly minted value-added-tax law on July 1, Purisima
hit the roof. Although there was no proof that
Malacanang had lobbied for the TRO, he was deeply
suspicious. "VAT was a big issue that firmed up his
resolve," said someone close to the Cabinet.

When the President remained unyielding in their July 5
meeting, the "doves" decided it was useless for them
to hang on. They intended to announce their
resignation today and worked on consolidating their

"Our immediate concern is not poison politics or
infirmities in the Constitution; the problem is the
symbol of government has been compromised," a close
aide quoted one of the "doves" as saying. "If we don't
deal with this now, we will have even more problems.
We're just simply disturbed that reforms are discussed
only in a crisis."

On Wednesday, July 6, Abad and Purisima flew to Hong
Kong to meet with Vice President Noli de Castro. They
told him about the resignation plan. De Castro was
supposedly surprised and asked for time to consult
with his family and advisers.

Although the Liberal Party denies it, sources at the
Nacionalista Party say that during that meeting, the
two Cabinet secretaries also asked De Castro to name
Senate President Franklin Drilon, an LP stalwart, as
his vice president and concurrently also executive
secretary. De Castro, however, was noncommittal. The
NP is pushing for Sen. Manuel Villar to take on the
vice presidency.

NP sources say that former President Corazon Aquino,
who met with de Castro yesterday, also lobbied asked
for Drilon. Mrs. Aquino also met with the president
last night.

Malacanang sources say that many in the Palace believe
that some of the "doves," especially those connected
with the Liberal Party, have a political agenda. They
also say that the president is determined to hang on.
She meant it when she said last night she's not going
to resign.

While the end game seems to have begun, the
resignation option will not be viable unless the
president concedes defeat and prepares for a graceful
exit. For the moment, though, Malacanang is still far
from the "graceful exit mode." For now, Mrs. Arroyo is
sticking to only one option: she is president and she
will hang on.


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