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The last reinvention of Gloria Featured

IN recent years, never has there been a major traditional politician who reinvented herself quite so often as Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. A political survivor of the first caliber, “…she has sunk to the nadir of power but once enjoyed its zenith; and descended to depths of despair… (“Games of thrones,” March 22, 2018, The Manila Times). But today, she has resurrected and is perched over the most traditional and distrusted political entity, with power to vanquish those that condemned her to years of personal deprivation within the confines of a hospital prison.

In the HBO series “Game of Thrones,” there is this character that hews close to her image, Jaqen H’ghar, the Faceless Man of Braavos, with the cunning and magical ability to change appearance at will. GMA could very well be the Jaqen H’ghar of Philippine politics. She shapeshifts at will and in this twilight of her political career — this is her last and third term as congresswoman — she is attempting to fashion another role for herself as the political consort and handmaiden to a president. And along with it is the political restructuring of the country; whether this is good for the country is of no moment — if it benefits the Gloria.

And GMA has a superb sense of timing as the Deegong is so occupied with affairs of the state. The economy has been floundering although the economic managers have been all over themselves assuring the citizenry that it is stable and growing. This is belied by the accelerating street protests. Consider the following national concerns, three of which have a direct impact to the poverty alleviation program of government: runaway inflation and rising prices of staple goods; stagnant wages; and the paucity of jobs. These issues could very well make or unmake the administration leading towards the midterm elections. If these are not addressed well by then, we will witness the annihilation of the Deegong’s chosen candidates, making his presidency a lame duck in his term’s second half.

The opposition has been speculating that the bureaucracy and the military have been distracting people from these gut issues by again raising the “communist bugaboo” with the “Red October” plot — that the CPP/NPA is reportedly organizing students and conspiring with the Liberal Party and the Yellow army to ouster the president. As of this writing, we are on the third week of October. The opposition may be right, that the Red October plot is a hoax. On the other hand, the administration and the military can claim victory for having “discovered the plot” and exposed it, preventing its execution.

Parallel developments that reinforce these diversions are the recent moves of the President, effectively co-opting the headlines and the news cycles: the silencing of his critics, Sereno and Trillanes. On the latter, the talk is that the civilian component bungled the amnesty of Trillanes. The military did not look kindly at this which could produce unintended consequences.

On the political front, reports have been persistent that the dominant PDP-Laban is in political limbo with many of its leading lights working out a modus vivendi with Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HP); and news of Imee Marcos, Pia Cayetano and Cynthia Villar revitalizing the Nacionalista (NP), their “mother party,” and abandoning their alliance with the PDP-Laban (Balita, Oct. 8, 2018), impacting negatively the unbranded senatorial line-up of the administration. This election may signal the fragmentation of dominant parties and the regrouping of old ones, led by the same traditional politicians who may have sensed the vulnerability of the president’s own and now circling like vultures over their political carcasses.

While these are going on, GMA managed to get her minions to revive Resolution 9 at the HOR to start the process of amending the Constitution, with or without the cooperation of the Senate. Or, if the Senate were to be involved, both houses will follow the current legislative process with each coming up with their own version and a bicameral conference committee to reconcile the differences.

It proposes a federal system with a presidential government composed of a bicameral body. In a departure from other proposals, the creation of the federal states would now be left solely to Congress. The Centrist Proposals call for negotiations between provinces, municipalities and cities to form federal states based on certain strict criteria.

The whole process of public consultation and constitutional revision will run two years within the term of DU30 still under the overarching provisions of the 1987 Constitution. But the anomalous proposal is a shameless attempt to short-circuit the role of Vice President Robredo, excluding her from the line of succession and putting the Senate President in her instead, should the position of president become vacant during the interim. This supposedly addresses the “…uncertainty in the vice presidency amid the ongoing electoral protest of Bongbong Marcos against the VP…” (PDI, Oct. 10, 2018).

The nuances need to be understood here. Firstly, Gloria as the Deegong’s handmaiden aided by her cohorts in Congress, no doubt with his imprimatur, will have to ram down the constitutional revisions. With Congress’ unconscionable track record, the carving up of the country will be left to political dynasties now populating the chamber. This is unacceptable!

GMA, who now leads these current initiatives, has totally departed from her position articulated by her 50-man Consultative Commission created in 2005 during her presidency, calling for a parliamentary form first before transitioning to a federal system. This is the Centrist Proposals which should have been considered by the committee on constitutional amendments.

These initiatives by Congress have reverberated with dissonance in the Cabinet. The DILG has focused on the three glaring and anomalous positions: “…taking out the vice president from the line of presidential succession; removing term limits for lawmakers during the transition to the proposed federal form of government; and the scrapping of a ‘self-executing anti-political dynasty provision’…” (Philippine Daily Inquirer, Oct. 12, 2018)

But the Senate made sure that there will be no federalism and Charter revisions before midterm elections next year, before GMA steps down. But it is not too late for Gloria to again reinvent herself and put on her last face. With her traditional influence in Congress and in tandem with DU30, they can together work out the much-needed reforms without touching the 1987 Constitution: passing the political party reform act, now pending in both houses; universal freedom of information bill; and the electoral reforms needed to clean out the dubious election process.

This last reinvention of Gloria may not exculpate her of her past transgressions but could elevate her reputation as The Reformer. That indeed is something she can leave behind as her legacy.000
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