Wednesday, March 01, 2006

"State of Emergency is Arroyo's gift to the opposition

In fairness, President Arroyo’s Proclamation 1017 did not trigger a mass round up of the opposition leaders and journalists. Despite the raid on the Philippine Daily Tribune by police forces, and the arrest of a few Leftists leaders, Philippine media, both print and broadcast, are still able to report freely as they used to do since the fall of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. It seems journalists are not really taking government’s "guidelines" seriously. In fact, Proclamation 1017 now appears to be President Arroyo’s gift to the Opposition. She has given them one big unifying factor. I wouldn’t wonder if she lifts the State of Emergency soon.

In the global blogging community, however, it seems like the Philippines’ democratic credentials are now totally in question. Writes AsiaPundit:

“The year of the dog should be interesting for Asia. A little over two months ago, AsiaPundit visited Austin's site and questioned the possibility of a coup happening in either Thailand or the Philippines, arguing that after a decade of democratic rule it seems unlikely either country would really care for a return of dictatorship (even if elected governments were seen as corrupt or incompetent). Two months has made quite a difference, and while neither country seems likely to suffer a coup, stability has suffered a double blow. The pace at which the governments of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra have unravelled is impressive.”

Robert Mayer of Publius Pundit lectures Filipinos on the sad turn of democracy in the Philippines:

“The declaration of a state of emergency, the possibility of a military coup, and the rising chance of mass street protests are all challenges to democracy in the Philippines. After twenty years following the original People Power Revolution, it’s high time that all of the country’s stakeholders begin to respect the rule of law. Especially the military. While President Arroyo’s declaration of emergency may be both shady as well as bad politics, especially in light of her lost legitimacy following a corruption scandal last year, the military has done more to undermine democracy in the Philippines than any other single player. It must be purged of any members who want to influence politics in the country in any way if the country is to ever develop democratic institutions.

Mayer lambasts both pro- and anti-Arryo forces in the Philippines:

“The main characters supporting the current government and those opposing it are all comprised of a group of elites who have dominated the country since Marcos’ downfall twenty years ago. In the meantime, work-a-day Filipinos are still trying to put food on their plates. At the end of the day, they don’t care that the opposition considers Arroyo illegitimate because both sides have proven themselves ineffective. They want a government that works. The only way for this to ever happen is if they lay to rest the notion the idea of using people power coups when anything goes wrong and develop the institutions that make democracy work.”

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