Like a candle slowly burning itself away to nothingness, confidence in the Arroyo administration is gradually but surely eroding as evidenced by the last Social Weather Station (SWS) survey for month of May (see previous post here). This was further compounded earlier this week by the testimony of Ms. Sandra Cam, self-confessed "jueteng bagwoman" positively implicating Presidential brother-in-law Rep. Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo and Presidential son Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo as recipients of jueteng protection money.
And just last night, Atty. Samuel Ong, former Deputy Director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has come forward, claiming to have in his possession the "mother-of-all-tapes," supposedly positive proof of Pres. Arroyo's involvement in massive cheating in last year's election. He also claimed that the recordings were obtained from the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP). Some circles have already started referring to Atty. Ong as the Philippine version of "Deep Throat," the anonymous source during the Watergate scandal which ultimately led to the resignation of then U.S. Pres. Richard Nixon. This entire situation, in fact, has already drawn several parallels to that dark episode of U.S. history.
The administration has already poised to defend itself by filing charges against against all those who have come forward and dared to implicate Pres. Arroyo and members of the First Family. Among those charged include former jueteng operator Wilfredo Mayor and "jueteng bagwoman" Sandra Cam both for libel. As of this writing, a composite PNP-NBI team of negotiators is just outside the gates of San Carlos Seminary in Guadalupe, Makati City, where Atty. Ong has sought refuge, intent on taking him into custody.
It has taken more than a year, but we seem to be bearing witness to a government putting on a brave face, yet desperate to preserve its existence and attempting to save what little credibility it has left. It also seems to be confused, unsure of how to defend itself from this onslaught. For example, Presidential Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye had originally claimed that the recording was "doctored" or "spliced" when it originally surfaced, but since then has performed a 180 and now claims to be unsure of whether the voice in the recording is really the President or not (see Manila Times story here).
Members of the opposition and various organized groups have openly called for Pres. Arroyo's resignation, yet the administration has dismissed these accusations as false and calls for her resignation as politically motivated by those who wish to destabilize the government. The administration may be correct, but with its credibility seriously compromised, and its penchant for crying wolf, it doesn't really seem that anyone believes them anymore.
We haven't seen then end of the story yet. There are only two possible outcomes though, one is that Pres. Arroyo successfully hurdles this situation and we preserve the status quo, or two, this could be a link in the chain which would eventually lead us to another revolution, and therefore, a change in leadership. Sad to say, both are not without its drawbacks. First outcome, we remain in this cesspool of bad leadership and low public support until 2010. Second outcome, we only prove to the world once more how politically immature and fickle-minded the Filipinos are by having a second popular revolt in four years. And this time...it may not be bloodless.
Again, we can only wait and see. And pray that the situation be resolved peacefully.
And by the way, great timing. Tomorrow is Independence Day.
'Mother of all tapes' surfaces
A government inching toward the brink