| As the smoke of the latest round of power struggle settles in the ground, an obnoxios new order takes form in the ever-chaotic arena that is Philippine society and politics. |
Inspite of the lifting of the presidential proclamation 1017(national emergency) and General Order (GO) 5, a state of fear exist in the minds of Filipinos who dare not speak out or march in the streets agaisnt abuses and excesses of those in power lest the boot of the government stamp down on them.
The full force and efforts of the Arroyo regime is now focused solely on maintaining the status quo and throwing all the main oppositionists off-balance while consolidating its power base firmly on political ground. The static and divisive debate on the legality of Mrs. Arroyo's presidency that was ignited with the alleged 2004 election cheating scandal and other anomalies concerning her administration had greatly undermined the government.
With most Filipinos frustrated over bureaucratic corruption and the endless controversies that maligned government agencies and institutions, it seemed to be just a matter of time before the ravenous wolves that are lurking in the political periphery jump at the center and impose their own rule on the people.
But in the last week of February,
sensing the palpable scent of domestic trouble, President Arroyo unleashed her Gestapo guards and locked-up in cages those who were incessantly barking at her administration. Armed with the recently exhumed "State of National Emergency", her allies quickly stomped on and extinguished the growing fires of discontent at Arroyo's flagging presidency. The blitskrieg tactics paid off, soon, most key opposition leaders were aprehended and neutralized, and the president once more triumphantly beat her chest in a savage cry of victory.
To keep the "destabilizers" in the leash as the government consolidates power, the Philippine authorities started weeding out military officers and officials that are critical of the Arroyo leadership. The top brass, acting on orders from Malacanang, sacked one reformist and untainted general of the elite Army Scout Rangers, Danilo Lim and placed him on an indefinite detention. When another straight and career-oriented and progressive military exec, Col. Ariel Quirobin protested and questioned the legality of the general's dismissal, he too, was cashiered.
Because it is highly politicized and fractious, the Philippine military now is suffering from its lowest morale in years as model and exemplary soldiers and officers get jailed for blowing the whistle on graft and corruption in the uniformed services. The whole military outfit of the country now is geared mainly on serving and protecting one over-ambitious and power-hungry individual-President Arroyo. Advancement and promotion is now based not on loyalty to country and people but to loyalty to one egotistical person that claimed to be the best leader the Philippines had in order to advance to economic prosperity and greatness.
But the very best act that Arroyo had performed so far is to summon the ghosts that have plagued the Filipinos for decades. Whatever gains of her self-serving supplications aimed at calming down the growing clamor for her to step down were swept away by the uneasy silence that grips the land.
The Philippines seemed to have been hurled back in the dark, stone ages. Although, the state of national emergency had been rescinded under pressure from Washington, still the Arroyo government had clamped down on free speech and press so as to prevent further attacts on her tenure in Malacanang.
Almost reminiscent of the Marcos era, authorities now banned rallies, demontrations, and any public gathering that might reach the "critical force" that the Arroyo regime now fears greatly. It must be remembered that in 2001, a huge crowd of the urban poor who were protesting the incarceration of their champion, former Pres. Joseph Ejercito Estrada, suddenly turned ugly and surged on the gates of the palace.
Now, officials took the lessons of the past to heart. Believing that the media played a crucial part in the ousting of corrupt Filipino executives in the past. Arroyo's political technicians have every reason to fear a free and westernized press. The major television stations now dominating the local airspace and national broadsheets were told to edit their reports according to governmnent standards and official lines.
All but one, the Daily Tribune, have been intimidated(or paid) by the present despots now holding sway over the Philippines, into keeping their stony silence and turning a blind eye on the various crimes being committed on the people and the host of anomalies that fatten the pockets of those in lucrative positions in the bureaucracy.
For comitting themselves to duty by fearlessly reporting all that is happening in the country, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Tribune-Belinda Cacho Olivares and two other gallant columnists were charged with sedition for having alledgedly incited the latest "coup" against the president.
But the more that Arroyo keeps the lid shut on press freedom, the more that the pressure for the search for truth will grow. When that pressure grows to uncontrollable level, it may explode and and finaly blow her to political oblivion.