Winnie Monsod got some flak for asking last week, People Power IV? No thanks!, but her column today is a fair and perfectly balanced summary of the difficulties facing the Philippines as it tries to figure out how to respond to the credible recent reports of huge and extensive corruption in the administration. I wouldn’t reach the same conclusion as her, but I wouldn’t claim there are easy answers to these questions, because there aren’t.
There is a bit of a problem with her first paragraph though.
Do I want President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to be removed from office? Only if she has been found guilty of crimes listed in the Constitution and only through the prescribed process—in short, impeachment.
But one of the crimes the president is accused of is cheating in the 2004 election, which led to the election of the very pro-administration congressmen who would vote on an impeachment motion. It is exactly this kind of inbreeding within the formal political system that has persuaded many Filipinos that no justice can be expected there.
It is true as Mareng Winnie says that there would be short-term economic and other benefits from the continuation of an Arroyo presidency until 2010. But what sort of message does that send to future presidents? It is OK to bleed the country dry so long as projects don’t bukol too noticeably?
It is very hard for the Philippines to have to consider a third extra-constitutional regime change in just over 20 years but that is not the fault of the protestors. It is the fault of the “greedy group”, which alas is much wider than the four people identified by Jun Lozada last week. The stables have to be cleaned one day and better sooner than later.