Politics and Elections

Trapo Queen

Among the things one would notice in President Arroyo’s 2004 inaugural address was that she no longer refered to the need for new politics as she did in January 2001 at the EDSA Shrine.

In 2001, she said:

Politics and political power as traditionally practiced and used in the Philippines are among the roots of the social and economic inequities that characterize our national problems. Thus, to achieve true reforms, we need to outgrow our traditional brand of politics based on patronage and personality. Traditional politics is the politics of the status quo. It is a structural part of the problem.

We need to promote a new politics of true party programs and platforms, of an institutional process of dialogue with our citizenry. This new politics is the politics of genuine reform. It is a structural part of the solution.

It was the best thing to say at that time.

During her first three years in office, however, the nation has witnessed patronage politics at its worst. From Vice President Teofisto Guingona‘s forced resignation from the foreign affairs department to the failed impeachment case against Chief Justice Hilario Davide, the trapo stench filled the country’s political atmosphere.

Now, after winning in an election believed by many as fraudulent, the President is at it again: she accepted the resignation of Department of Interior and Local Government secretary Joey Lina, who apparently failed to gather enough votes for her in Laguna. Lina was replaced by former Defense secretary Angelo Reyes. It must be recalled that under the Estrada regime, Reyes led the destructive all-out war against the Moro rebels in Mindanao. He was also among the causes of discontent of young military officers who staged a failed power grab last year. And his 10-million mansion has been investigated by the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission. Despite these, Reyes remains among the president’s favored men.

Then, she reappointed Virgilio Garcillano and Emmanuel Barcelona to the Commission on Elections. The appointment of these two are being questioned by critics because of Garcillano’s links to dagdag-bawas operations in Mindanao and Barcelona’s close connections with the first family.

Most recently, Arroyo let go of Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman–a qualified, competent and dedicated official–to accomodate the wishes of her running mate Noli de Castro.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer, which expressed its disappointment in today’s editorial, reported that Soliman, an active participant in the EDSA People Power 2 that installed Arroyo into the presidency, felt betrayed.

Nothing else is new. This is just the latest of Arroyo’s betrayal of her EDSA promises.

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