Wednesday, December 3, 2008



By Erick A. San Juan

Filipinos, particularly the restless opposition, need to unify its ranks and find an appropriate issue which they need to equip with a triggering mechanism, if they want to succeed in deposing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on their nth attempt.

Like in Thailand, the Philippine opposition’s main issue against the current administration is graft and corruption. That is their gun. It worked in Thailand. But, does their gun have a trigger? What about their bullet, isn’t it a dud?

No doubt, the stooges who, for ages now, have been wanting to snatch the right to dwell in Malacanang Palace are startled with awe and envy over the fete achieved by their Thai counterparts, whose series of protest actions was able to snowball into a gradual occupation of the airports, which eventually triggered a supreme court ruling that equally banned for corruption, the three leading political parties of Thailand, finally ousting the Prime Minister.

Now that the reformist people of Thailand are successful in deposing what they call “a corrupt regime that replaced an equally corrupt administration,” all that their Filipino counterparts could do is to just watch and at best, try to nibble their fingers for some formulas that they hope can effectively work in giving their own corrupt leaders the boot.

The world sees the achievement of the Thais as another triumph of their own variation of the “Peoples’ Power” which the Filipinos invented.

While there seem to be some similarities of issues being raised in both countries, the realities on the ground are different. First of all, Thailand’s monarchy is real, while in the Philippines, some powers that be are just hoping they are the monarchy. They may not be claiming these and those as theirs, but they have been trying to enrich themselves in power - with some touches of legitimacy?

But many are skeptical if the use of Peoples Power could result in the ouster of President Arroyo this time. To boot her out needs a determined and charismatic leader who has a popular issue that has a trigger, a critical mass into a consistent mass action. This leader must never be another political opportunist. This is what appears to be wanting in our present crop of leaders.

Let us recall that the opposition, using as main issue the widespread fraud that attended the 1985 snap presidential elections, was able to drive the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos out of Malacanang. But as it turned out, the conquerors evolved to be more crooked than the one they fired! The next regimes accomplished only one thing. They bled our coffers dry – all of our assets have been sold out as a result of a total breakdown of the Philippine government’s revenue generation system.

Then, followed the administration of President Jose Marcelo Ejercito a.k.a. Joseph Estrada, who stayed in office for a little more than 2 years only. Amid charges of massive corruption (for which he was never convicted by the impeachment court), the impeachment proceedings was aborted by a walkout that marred the trial. This triggered the massive rallies and the eventual withdrawal of support from the military, whose leaders are now the “immortal” officials to whom President Arroyo is paying for past favors, for providing her an opportunity to sit where she is.

For the past four years there have been foiled impeachment moves against the President whose popularity has unceasingly been inching closer to the rock bottom. In some other nations, their leaders get the boot when they get this far below - not in the Philippines.

Sad to say, the recycling of issues and the repeated investigations – in aid of election and extortion at the Senate – and even the entry cum spirited participation of the discredited former Speaker Joe de Venecia into the ranks of opposition may be able to help in creating some noise, but triggering her ouster from power may just be another dream.

But Filipinos are generally stubborn. They don’t just give up. Or, shall we call that perseverance? If their formula does not work, they can always regroup and try to map out another strategy and apply it until it turns out to be a “tragedy.”

Let us not be surprised if one day, they will start dressing former President Fidel V. Ramos in a manner the Thais look up to King Bumibol of Siam. Also, now that President Ramos had left for a speaking engagement in Guam, let us not be surprised if some pivotal developments evolve before he returns.

But the question that needs to be answered quickly is: Does President Ramos have the quality and the willingness to be the catalyst for a regime of change ala King of Thailand? He's known to be a man of peace and has saved GMA during the so called "Hyatt 10 coup" to avert a possible civil war. Will he save her this time? Yesterday, in a press conference in his Makati office, PFVR was quoted saying, "GMA is lucky for herself but not for the majority of the Filipinos!". There's a move to use People power, but it will not be repeated." Read my lips?

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