Monday, October 09, 2006

Prime Minister Arroyo

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will move heaven and earth to become Prime Minister when the Philippine system of government is somehow altered into a parliamentary govenment. She needs the title.

There are two things Mrs. Arroyo cannot shake from the judgment of history no matter how long she remains in power.

The first is that she is the most unpopular president the Philippines has had in recent memory, faring worse than Ferdinand Marcos. The second is that she is the only Chief Executive in Philippine history who has never had a mandate to govern.

The first issue does not bother her; not openly anyway. Her administration dishes out standard replies to every survey that consistently puts her at the bottom of the pupularity scale - this is not a popularity contest. Her administration will make the hard decisions that will revive the economy etcetera etcetera and so forth.

The second, I suspect, eats at her very core. Arroyo became President after Estrada was forced to leave office. As vice-president, she was second in the line of command and assumed the presidency by sheer luck. The results of the 2004 elections are suspect because she was caught conversing with an Election Commissioner, apparently establishing her margin of victory over Fernando Poe Jr. With her allies and the church scrambling to conceal the truth, Arroyo cannot claim any legitimate authority from whom she derives the power to govern.

Ferdinand Marcos was elected into office two times. Corazon Aquino established a revolutionary government when Marcos was driven out of office. An election protest against Fidel V. Ramos’ election was dismissed because it had become moot. The protestant in the case was deemed to have abandoned her claim to the Presidency when she won and assumed the office of Senator of the Philippines in a subsequent election. See Defensor-Santiago v. Ramos, P.E.T. Case No. 001, February 13, 1996. That issue had closure.

Joseph Estrada may have been driven from office by angry mobs but he was elected President with the largest margin of victory in the history of the Philippines.

A stint as Prime Minister, however short, will finally give the Arroyo administration a hint of legitimacy that has eluded her.

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