Friday, October 19, 2007

Why GMA Should Resign

Just so we're clear, this is not a call for sedition or revolution. Neither is this a demand for said resignation nor even a call for protest that would lead to such. This is -- at least I hope it is -- simply a calm, balanced, and rational exposition of why it is high time for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to resign from the presidency of the Republic of the Philippines.

As I write this, the flurry of the day's news is just winding down. It has been a grim day. Just a little bit after lunch on a Friday afternoon, a bomb exploded in a busy mall in Makati City. The death toll so far: 8 dead, more than 90 wounded. Some speculated that it might have been a gas leak, but no, the pictures of the damage point to anything but.

I do not know how to adequately describe the knot of pain that I felt in my stomach when I heard the news. Thankfully, I did not have any family in the vicinity at the time of the incident; but I do still have several friends who live and work in the area. Were any of them in the midst of a leisurely lunch in Glorietta when it happened? Were any of them just walking by that sidewalk when the bomb exploded? Some messages of reassurance have come in, and as for the rest, I continue to hope for the best.

Far more than the loss of life and property in upscale Makati is the psychological blow that this incident deals to the rest of the country. For all the pockets of violence that may erupt from time to time in the countryside, the posh Ayala area has in the past twenty years been the image of security, normalcy, commerce, and progress that the rest of us aspire to. But not anymore. If it can happen there, what about the rest of us elsewhere?

What does this have to do with Arroyo's resignation? Let me put it this way: one of the first things that came to mind was the thought that it was the Arroyo administration itself that orchestrated this carnage. Maybe it was just my pre-existing biases at work? But the more I listened and read, the more I found out that I was not alone in this suspicion. A normally apolitical friend voiced the same opinion. Please, tell me honestly, how many of you felt the same way?

Should Arroyo resign on these mere unfounded suspicions?

It bespeaks of something terribly, terribly wrong when common folk like me can even entertain the idea that their government would do such a thing. It means that there's a severe lack of trust, and more than that, it means there's fear. Yes, fear. I am afraid of this government, of what it is capable of, of what it has already done.

The explosion comes at a suspiciously opportune time when scandal after scandal hounds this administration. Last month, it was the anomalous ZTE-NBN deal and its twin sister the Cyber Education Project. This month, it's the P500,000 "gifts" to congressmen, governors, and mayors. (That's not counting all the rest that came before.) Could the bomb simply have been a "diversionary" tactic to draw our attention away from these scandals? The prospects, unfortunately, are all too plausible.

But let's say it's not the Arroyo administration that orchestrated the bombing. Let's say it was the equally plausible Jemayaah Islamiyah, or even the MILF, or even political enemies and rogue military elements. What then? Should we also hold Arroyo responsible? The very same Arroyo who promised "total war" where she would crush the insurgency "in three months' time?" (Remember: it's always in "three months' time", which is about time it takes for us Filipinos to forget promises.)

And really, there you have it. On the one hand, there's the devious, callous, and self-serving logic; and on the other, there's overall incompetence and dishonesty. In either case, there's the greed, corruption, and moral bankruptcy. Oh, let's just call it for what it is: that offensive, choking, rotten stink of decay that follows her wherever she goes.

Such a person does not deserve to govern.