Dark Days for Philippine Democracy

I guess the aforementioned article (in the preceding blog post) isn't the only thing The New York Times has to say about the current state of Philippine affairs.

This editorial from the April 5 edition of the same publication paints a less than rosy picture of the current administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is portrayed to be a Ferdinand Marcos in the making.

What do you think?

Dark Days for Philippine Democracy
Editorial, The New York Times, April 5, 2006

Filipinos thought they had put an end to electoral chicanery and governmental intimidation when they overthrew the Marcos dictatorship two decades ago. Unfortunately, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has completely lost touch with the ideals that inspired that 1986 "people power" movement.

Mrs. Arroyo is no Ferdinand Marcos, at least not yet. But this onetime reformer is reviving bad memories of crony corruption, presidential vote-rigging and intimidation of critical journalists. Unless the Philippine Congress and courts find ways to rein in her increasingly authoritarian tendencies, democracy itself may be in danger.

This was not the outcome people expected five years ago when Mrs. Arroyo, then the vice president, was swept into power on a wave of popular discontent with her discredited predecessor, Joseph Estrada. In those days, Mrs. Arroyo, a professional economist, was seen as an earnest reformer. She won further credit by pledging not to run for a new six-year term in 2004.

But then she changed her mind, and her style of government as well. Her narrow re-election victory became tainted after a tape revealed her discussing her vote totals with an election commissioner while ballots were still being counted. She survived an impeachment attempt over that incident. But she was forced to send her husband into exile over charges that he took bribes from gambling syndicates.

Earlier this year she briefly declared a state of emergency in response to allegations of a coup threat that others disputed. Since then she has been intensifying pressure on a wide range of political critics and especially on the press. Government officials have warned news outlets that they will be held to restrictive new guidelines, the justice secretary talks darkly about a journalistic watch list, and the staff members of a well-known center for investigative journalism have been threatened with sedition charges. No Philippine government has made such efforts to muzzle the press since the Marcos era.

President Bush has repeatedly hailed Mrs. Arroyo as an important ally against international terrorism. He now needs to warn her that by undermining a hard-won democracy, she is making her country far more vulnerable to terrorist pressures.


Anonymous said…
The writer of that column failed to see the "complications" brought about the EDSA 1. The Philippines furtherly deteriorated during the post-Marcos era. Not one president bother to "maintain" or improve our infrastructures. They all have neglected those.

Another is, s/he failed to see the havoc brought about by both politicians from administration and opposition.

People seem to forget that it's not Mrs Arroyo who is *evil*, almost all Filipino politicans are. They love to spend money for their useless "political blahs", but they are not willing to spend money for the countries improvement.

They are itching to change the constitution, to have a re-election, to have this and them which is actually VERY COSTLY.

They also have forgotten the pendings bills that need approvement that will benefit the citizens of the Philippines.

The depiction of Marcos is too unjust. If Marcos did not exist, would we have the San Juanico bridge, the flyovers, CCP, Lung center, etcetera.
Ronald Allan said…
I have to agree somewhat. The traditional Filipino politician, regardless of leanings, is basically to blame for all the hardships this country is going through.

Politicians are just more concerned over grandstanding and making grandiose statements. But when push comes to shove, hardly anyone of them seem to get results.

I wouldn't claim to know all the details, but to be fair, some of our past Presidents did exert efforts to improve our infrastructures. With Cory it was flyovers. With Ramos it was our electrical infrastructure. With Erap, well, let me get back to you on that one. With Gloria, well, charter change?

Damn. Goes to show how really deep in shit the Filipino people truly are.

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