Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Erap Factor

Last Friday, July 8, 2005, eight cabinet members and 2 senior officials of the Arroyo administration resigned and called on the President to resign. Their decision was met with praise and criticisms. The praise comes mostly from sectors that want President Arroyo to resign. The criticisms from their co-cabinet members and other supporters of the President.

The most telling criticism seem to be "disloyalty". Philippine culture is personality centered, and friendship counts for a lot. The accusation of betrayal cuts deep into the heart of many. This week, some members of the 10 are doing the rounds explain the reasons for their decision. The reasons they state can be divided into two, although many specific reasons are given.
  1. The President did not undertake the reforms she promised to do;
  2. The political situation is such that her resignation is the best way for the country to move on from the crisis it is facing.
I believe that a third reason is being left unsaid, and it has something to do with what happened to the Estrada administration in 2001.

The Estrada administration also had members of civil society in its fold. At the height of the campaign for his resignation/removal, civil society organizations and individuals made public and personal appeal to these members to leave the Estrada administration to help convince the then President to leave office. Very few of them did, and those who did were lower level officials. The failure of these officials to leave the Estrada administration before its downfall were seen by civil society, including those who has just resigned, as an abandonment of their principles and a betrayal of their civic duty.

When President Arroyo succeeded into the Presidency, she appointed several members of the civil society organizations that worked for the removal of President Estrada and supported her ascension. A significant number of those who resigned, came from these organizations.

I believe that though unstated and probably not the only reason, in the back of their minds, these civil society figures were all to aware that their credibility in the eyes of civil society, rests on whether they do the correct thing. And at that point, a consensus was slowly building within civil society organizations and individuals, headed by former President Corazon Aquino, that the President, as she admitted, did something wrong and that she should be held accountable.

The call for her resignation, I believe, was also influenced by the Erap factor. I think civil society believes that their treatment of President Arroyo should be equivalent to their treatment of President Estrada. They believe that any perception they are favoring the President will lose them credibility. The fact that they took so long to weigh the evidence, while being taunted by the former Estrada partisans from civil society, influenced the decisions to call for resignation rather than a through investigation of the matter."

Other notes:

I got this story from the pcij blog
"Today, the same people behind eLagda have come up with another online petition-signing campaign to clamor for Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to step down"
They are doing this petition because according to the website
"We can, of course, go through the process prescribed by law - impeachment. Meanwhile, however, we have a politically volatile situation that might encourage some sectors to pursue extra-constitutional means to seize power"
And surprisingly, one of their affiliate member is the ERAP Fans club. Either they did not get the memo that they are supposed to pursue extra-constitutional means to seize power or they differ with their idol on this point.

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