Let [President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo] finish her term. She's doing so well. Why can't you wait?- M. Andrews, presidential ex-classmate
Uttered amidst the increasing pressure for Gloria Arroyo to resign, this statement made by an Assumptionista high school classmate of the beleaguered President is actually a boomerang question that Andrews should have asked her pal seven years ago during the power grab disguised as Edsa 2 "People Power." Why did then Vice-President Arroyo not wait for the overwhelmingly-elected Philippine President Joseph "Erap" Estrada to finish his term, instead of grabbing the Philippine presidency away from him in 2001? In the face of accusations of supposed corruption and resignation calls against Estrada, similar to what Arroyo is facing now, why didn't she wait? Why???
The answer is that Gloria Arroyo and his husband, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, were among those who planned, along with elements from the rich business groups, the religious or hypocritical Catholic bishops and the rapacious fellow opportunist politicians, the ouster of the hugely popular Estrada. Contrary to what have been largely projected in the unscrupulous traditional media, the Arroyo camp manipulated and conned the gullible but perhaps well-meaning Edsa 2 mob that demanded Estrada step down after it became clear that the Senate would not impeach the sitting President.
Various international and local media accounts during and after the Edsa 2 coup d etat during the fateful days of January 2001 together paint the complete picture of how the Arroyos "hijacked the Philippines," as referred to by outspoken local journalist Ellen Tordesillas. Accounts come from the movie "Power Grab from President Estrada," Philippine Graphic, Time Magazine, The Straits Times, International Herald Tribune and New York Times.
Trampling on the 1987 Philippine Charter and the Electoral Process
According to no less than the Honorable Cecilia Munoz-Palma, the former Supreme Court Justice and chairperson of the 1987 Constitutional Commission, Edsa 2 caused the 1987 Constitution to suffer. "This happened when the ongoing impeachment trial of President Joseph Estrada, was unceremoniously disrupted and discontinued, and the issues on hand were brought to the streets. The rule of law was set aside and the rule of force prevailed.”
Singapore Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, as quoted in the January 26, 2001 issue of The Straits Times, believed that “The change of power in the Philippines was no boost for democracy because it was done outside the constitution...”
Philip Bowring of the International Herald Tribune wrote in January 22, 2001 that "far from being a victory for democracy that is being claimed by leaders of the Anti-Estrada Movement such as Jaime Sin, the evolution of [the Edsa 2] events have been a defeat for due process.”
The New York Times’ account, through Seth Mydans' article on February 6, 2001, reported how Edsa 2 was perceived as "an elitist backlash against a president who had overwhelmingly been elected by the poor. This time, it appears, "people power" was used not to restore democracy but, momentarily, to supplant it."
On January 21, 2001, Gloria Arroyo took her oath of office in open air, amidst the jeering jubilation of a mob gullible enough to believe it was pure "People Power" at work in the ouster of the popular President. Estrada, the only post-Martial Law President who has been unequivocally elected into Malacanang, expressed "strong and serious doubts about the legality and constitutionality of her proclamation as President". Earlier, protesters in lynch mode had broken through the barriers of the presidential palace where the embattled President had holed up.
Sinister and Well-Planned
Ludicrously unknown to the manipulated, gullible crowd of Edsa 2, the conjugal greed of Mrs. and Mr. Arroyo had been well in the works days before Estrada's impeachment trial began in the Senate. Two months after Gloria Arroyo took the presidency, the First Gentleman Mike Arroyo recounted events that led up to Edsa 2--revealing the political machinations and scheming that the husband and wife team conducted behind the doors. The following are excerpts from the interview Mike Arroyo granted to acclaimed Filipino writer Nick Joaquin, which appeared in the March 5, 2001 issue of the Philippine Graphic:
"[Vice-President Gloria Arroyo] had really left the Cabinet at the right moment: the timing was perfect. If she had tarried a moment longer, she would have been too late for EDSA: she would have made it there as an opportunist. And as for the ill-feeling in Metro Manila, we tackled that by going back to the door-to-door campaign: she went from barangay to barangay explaining her motives, outlining her program. And it worked. Then came the impeachment trial, and from there, tuloy-tuloy na [everything fell into place.
"There was a time honestly, when I felt I erred in advising her to resign from the Cabinet. The masa [masses] in Manila apparently wanted her to stick it out with Erap. And when she started attacking him, everything fell on us - grabe [terrible!]- everything! But I told myself: it's now or never; if we lose here we're totally destroyed and it's goodbye to her political career - but if we win here, she becomes President! So we really fought.
"We got all those Erap tapes from Ramon Jacinto and distributed them all over. We bought one million and a half million copies of Pinoy Times to give away so the public could read about the Erap mansions and bank accounts.
"And when EDSA happened, we texted everybody to go running there. EDSA, EDSA: everybody converge on EDSA! Panalo kung panalo! [Patay kung patay [Come victory or defeat!] Jinggoy [Estrada] had already announced what they would do to us if they won.
"Chavit Singson had Plan B involving elements of the military to strike the first blow. They would kindle the spark by withdrawing from the government, and one by one others would follow: Class '71 would also withdraw, then Class '72, and so forth. But General de Villa warned that the timing had to be precise because one untimely move against the government and the military would automatically defend it. The move must be made at what De Villa called a 'defining moment.'
"You see, General De Villa had his Plan A, which was better than ours, because his was focused on the Chief of Staff and the Service Commanders. At past one o'clock p.m. January 20, Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes defected but we knew that already the night before, when negotiations had lasted until the small hours. By past 2 a.m. we knew Reyes had been convinced to join. His only condition was: Show us a million people on EDSA so it will be easier to bring in the service commanders.
"And they asked when the crowd was thickest; we told them: from three to five in the afternoon. So they agreed to come to EDSA at around that time. But while hiding in their safehouse, they got reports that General Calimlim could not be located and their first thought was: "He's out looking for us!" So they decided to rush to EDSA right away. When they got there, why there too at the Shrine was Calimlim! He had been looking for them all right, but join to join them, not to arrest them!
"Our group there was a back-up strike force. In fact, it was our group that won over to our side the PNP first. If [Philippine National Police Chief] Panfilo Lacson had resisted, he and his men would have been repelled: there would have been bloodshed, but not on EDSA. In every place where Erap loyalists had a force, we had a counter-force to face it, with orders to shoot. And not only in Metro Manila. Carillo had already been sent to the provinces; and in Nueva Ecija, for instance, we had Rabosa. This was a fight to the finish. That's why those five days that Erap was demanding were so important. He was counting on counter-coups and baliktaran [loyalty switch].
"I was negotiating with Pardon up to three o'clock in the morning: niloloko lang pala kami [we were only being deceived]. But I told him point-blank: "If by six o'clock this morning you haven't given us the resignation letter, we will storm the gates of Malacañang!' But they insisted on more talk: with De Villa up front, and my back channel debate with Pardo, which even became a three-way contest, with Buboy Virata pitching in.
"But the threat to march to Malacañang was for real. And so was the danger of bloodshed. I wasn't telling Gloria everything: I didn't want her alarmed. So she didn't know about the orders to shoot."
Mike Arroyo's unguarded revelations surprisingly lend practically indisputable credence to Estrada's assessment of the Edsa 2 development. As it appeared in the Feb. 11, 2001 issue of Time magazine, Estrada described Edsa 2 as not actually a "People Power" uprising but rather, "swift justice indeed -- as in a lynching. It repudiated the very essence of due process enshrined in the constitution. Mob rule catapulted Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the presidency..." Estrada's belief that Edsa 2 "was hatched in the boardrooms and gated villages of Metro Manila and backed by a text-messaging generation" would unwittingly be corroborated by the better half of the presidential usurper.
Why did Arroyo not wait for Estrada to finish his term ending 2004? Why did she and her husband have to spend and buy 1.5 million anti-Estrada propaganda material? Why did they scheme with seditious politicians, influential civilians and generals for the unconstitutional ouster of a democratically elected and largely popular sitting president? As the First Gentleman revealed himself in the interview by Joaquin, the masses wanted her to be loyal to Estrada. Why did she go against the will of the majority? The answer is simply because she was the ambitious character who was next in the line of succession who decided to manipulate the situation into the opportunity to 'inherit' Malacanang early enough, and without the prospect of possible electoral defeat in May 2004. Coming from the mouth of the horse's husband, ...if we win here, she becomes President!".
Cory, the Youth, Intellectuals and Civil Society "Gullibles"--All Been Had
The Edsa II "People Power" coup d e'tat was hatched through the coalesced leadership of elements of political opportunists galvanizing under then Vice-President Arroyo, rebel military influenced by ex-President Fidel Ramos, Catholic bishops led by Jaime Cardinal Sin, and Philippine leftists such as former communist rebel Satur Ocampo. Undoubtedly, there were other groups behind the unconstitutional fiesta mob rule of the 2001 Edsa. There were the influential business elites, of course, and as well, the Protestant Jesus is Lord Movement by Bro. Eddie Villanueva. These groups could be said to be the plotters, each of which falls into the category of either being devious, vengeful, or well-meaning but misguided. Estrada was, after all, far from perfect. It was easy for those with poor democratic values to seek the Machiavellian way out of a President who acted like, and preferred to identify himself with the masses, perhaps much too much.
On the other, there were the truly idealistic elements who only sought better governance for the Philippines. Former President Corazon "Cory" Aquino, acknowledged to be more of a moral force than a politician, by the civil society in particular, had of course been actively campaigning for Erap's resignation. But there were also the youth and the intellectuals. The youth, mostly prodded by the officials from their Catholic schools, and college students, influenced by their professors or student organizations, were very much part of Edsa II. These groups believed in using pure "People Power," enshrined in the Constitution, as vehicle for a change in government. The views of these elements were perhaps best summed up by the University of the Philippines Professor Clarita Carlos: during the TV broadcast coverage of the five days of the Edsa 2, she urged the Philippine military "Huwag na kayong makialam pa" ["Don't interevene anymore"]. The UP political scientist, along with the rest of the idealistic components, genuinely believed that the Estrada government could be removed by sheer force of an adulterated "People Power" movement. Alas, unknown to them were the schemes of the Arroyos and conspiring elements, not to change the government for the better, but to grab power from a President not to their taste and plans. As would later be unraveled through the Mike Arroyo interview and other accounts, the youth and the academic/intellectual community simply served to be gullible pawns in the power grab conspiracy of a fallacious Edsa 2.
Karma and Fallacy of the Power Grab
Today, in the midst of the increasing pressure for her resignation, Gloria Arroyo, through her elite-educated friends, has the gall to tell Filipinos to wait? Apart from her vile and illegitimate ascent to the presidency, Filipinos have all the right reasons to have her evicted. Why so? Gloria Arroyo is `not doing well. Well, at least not, in terms of her administration of the country well.
For one, a seemingly endless litany of corruption issues that virtually began on day one of her extraconstitutional ascent to power has led to her earning the humiliating title of "Most Corrupt" Philippine President, based on a 2007 national survey study. Recently, she bagged the moniker "evil" following the Senate investigation on the anomalous NBN-ZTE contract. Her record on human rights has been so alarming that even the European Union got concerned. Even independent, foreign entities have found the poor, if not dismal, state of the Southeast Asian nation under her regime. The latest of these is the Bertelsmann Foundation study that perhaps best reveals the general picture of the obtaining state of the Philippines under Gloria Arroyo. The Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index points to how the country has fallen in global ranking to 51 from 41 registered two years ago. “ The study also bares how:
[President] Arroyo took advantage of a range of undemocratic methods, critical media and utilizing government tools to secure the support of parliament. The murder of opponents, a dramatically high level of violence against journalists and repeated attempts to instrumentalize constitutional controls also represent deficiencies in democratic development.”
The Philippines is now faced with the spectacle of yet another change of leadership, as elements of the influential Catholic Church, big business and high-end civil society have staged various protest activities directed against the current occupant of Malacanang, the very President they illegitimately installed back in 2001. As eastern wisdom says 'the karmic cup may be slow to fill, but fill it will.' It has been seven long years since hers and Mike Arroyo's conjugal greed hijacked the Philippine presidency, but their karmic cup of evil lies and fraud and rapacious greed is full and ready to pour hard on them. Karmic, ironic, pathetic.