December 21, 2009 in Featured
Underneath the never-ending and intensifying political conflict is the permanent and worsening crisis of the economy. The raging economic crisis feeds the growing dispute among the various factions of the political elite contending for control of political power and monopoly of economic spoils – a conflict that has become more pronounced and increasingly vicious under the nine-year old Arroyo administration.
With the 2010 national elections just less than six months away, recent political developments paint not only a scenario of massive fraud and violence unprecedented in the country’s electoral history but more and more a scenario of no elections (No-El).
By joining the 2010 elections as a congressional candidate in Pampanga, Mrs. Arroyo single-handedly raised the stakes in the upcoming polls. The Nov. 23 Ampatuan Massacre which was triggered by the local electoral conflict in Maguindanao is just the first in the many cases of expected election-related violence in the coming months.
For Mrs. Arroyo and her allies, the arena is much, much bigger than the second district of Pampanga. What is at stake is control of government itself and her filing of candidacy is just the first step in the ruling party Lakas-Kampi’s grand plan to preserve and consolidate its control of political power. The scheme, which Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita has already practically confirmed, is to change the form of government from presidential to parliamentary through Charter change (Cha-cha) with Mrs. Arroyo as Prime Minister.
Key to this sinister plot is clinching a Lakas-Kampi victory in next year’s polls – from the president to the members of the House of Representatives and Senate, as well as officials of local government units (LGUs). With government resources at their disposal, Lakas-Kampi enjoys a huge election war chest, the patronage of local government officials including warlords, and a formidable fraud machinery. All these will certainly be utilized to the hilt.
At the minimum, Mrs. Arroyo’s congressional bid at least assures her of a government position that she can use as leverage against lawsuits as well as security for her family’s many economic interests.
With such high-stake, extremely contentious national polls, the scenario of a failure of elections and transition government also remain a strong possibility. It does not help that the Comelec has not made any significant effort in assuaging public apprehension about the reliability of its Automated Election System (AES) which many critics and experts fear is designed to fail.
Finally, the most drastic option that the Arroyo administration is very much prepared to resort to in order to stay in power is martial law. The regime is using the public outrage created by the gruesome killings of 57 people, including 30 journalists, to lay the ground for a possible declaration of military rule in other parts of the country using warlordism, terrorism, or even insurgency as an excuse and thus scuttle the holding of the scheduled elections next year.
Under Section 15 of the Omnibus Election Code, elections can be postponed if the holding of free, orderly, and honest elections becomes impossible due to “violence, terrorism, or other analogous causes”.
With Lakas-Kampi still holding a considerable clout in the House of Representatives, and Supreme Court justices except Chief Justice Reynato Puno being Arroyo appointees, prospects of these institutions upholding the constitutional safeguards against martial law are gloomy.
There is still a very long road ahead in the people’s struggle against the illegitimate, corrupt, fascist, and anti-people regime. The 2010 elections – if the people are able to ensure that it pushes through as scheduled – will be a complex battle. Then there is the Cha-cha agenda that Mrs. Arroyo and Lakas-Kampi will relentlessly push for. And lastly, the need to ensure that the new administration will take an active role in making Mrs. Arroyo and her allies account for their crimes and abuses, and that no political compromises will be made.
The key is for the Filipino people to remain vigilant every step of the way. # nordis.net