July 9, 2005

Principles vs Politics

With the recent developments in the Philippine political arena yesterday, I was expecting a speedy resolution to our crisis to come soon. The admired, credible and respected cabinet secretaries calling for GMA's resignation seemed to be a telling blow, specially with their stature in the business community and civil society. The Liberal Party's withdrawal of support, dubious as it may seem, has fractured the administration coalition, with no less than the senate president calling for the president's resignation. Four prominent business organizations, including the Makati Business Club, joined the calls for resignation, following the resignation of almost all of GMA's economic managers. And then finally, one of the rallying figures of the middle forces, former president Corazon Aquino, called on the president to make the supreme sacrifice to relinquish her position as president.

But just when I thought it was already checkmate against the president, she brought out her cards and went on counter-offensive with a series of political maneuverings. The Nacionalista party, led by Manuel Villar, reiterated their support for the president. New cabinet secretaries were named, even thought they would just play an OIC function, in order to belittle the "loss" of the resigned cabinet secretaries. The resigned secretaries were subsequently "demonized" and labeled as traitors. A bunch of governors and mayors around the nation expressed their support and belittled the crisis as one perpetrated solely by "imperial Manila." JDV trumpeted this as an opportune time to shift from a presidential to a parliamentary form of government (and finally gain him the power the electorate never wanted to grant him). And most fearful of all, we see the man who, in my opinion, has been orchestrating all the moves of the adminisration even way back during GMA's first term - the political sleuth former president Fidel V. Ramos.

In countries like Japan, where honor is one of the highest virtues, a person would have stepped down, or would have performed hara-kiri, instead of being shamed in public in the midst of controversies and scandals. But it would seem that for government officials here in our country, politics comes first before principles. A political position is held in high regard for the "title" (and monetary benefits?) it bestows, not necessarily the honor that comes with it. The lack of principles in decision-making can be seen in the existence of double-standards, switching between the "rule of law" and the "voice of the people", depending on which side of the fence you are in.

It remains to be seen whether the principled call for resignation could actually break through the political stonewalling of the administration. Currently, the "Resign!" movement seems to lack the moral force to persuade a critical mass to march into the streets to call for GMA's resignation because of the existence of "tainted" personalities in their ranks. Personally, I don't see Cory Aquino sharing the stage with Imee Marcos, or resigned DOF secretary Cesar Purisima shaking hands with the KMU and other so-called "pro-poor" leftist militants. That is exactly the reason why the supposedly "grand" rally held in Makati yesterday fizzled out.

The "Resign!" movement needs the opinion of some more principled moral authorities in order to gain more persuasive power. Aksyon Demokratiko of former presidential candidate Raul Roco, who seems to have a following among the idealistic youth, has issued a statement this morning calling for the resignation of GMA and the COMELEC officials. Currently, the position of the religious groups, particularly the CBCP, is eagerly awaited.

Would this be the "tipping point" that we, especially Manolo, have all been waiting for? We'll see.

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