Thursday, December 29, 2005

Review and Forecast

More than in other countries, Christmas in the Philippines is a time to rest, to enjoy life with the family and, above all, to be harmonious. It is not the season of politics, much less a time for politicking. As a result, newspapers, television and radio shows are pretty bloodless, in a political sense. This context may also explain the lack of updates on this site.

The New Year just around the corner, it is a good opportunity to look back and also look forward. In a political review, 2005 was a horrific year for the Philippines. The legitimacy issue of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) has split the political class right down the middle - and with it great parts of Philippine society.

Listening to political debates, at times I started to worry whether the country was heading towards civil war. Quite fortunately, the conflict never escalated to that stage. Maybe, in hindsight, this peacefulness is the only positive aspect of the enduring political crisis.

Arguably the most remarkable political development in 2005 has been the comeback of GMA. Those who prematurely (and repeatedly) wrote her off have lost political credibility. They underestimated their political foe. Strategically, this is a fatal blunder on the side of the disunited opposition. More than her own doings, the opposition’s weakness has helped the president get back on her feet and pretend as if all is in order, as if nothing has happened.

More so than in 2005, GMA will be the master of the political scene in the New Year. She will attend to the matters of state, and leave it to her handlers and allies to fight it out with all those who question her rule.

One should expect that the disunited opposition may once more try to impeach the president in Congress. That is a legitimate effort. Whether it will lead to the desired result is a different matter all together. With general elections due in 2007 (and a constitutional referendum possibly around the corner), the opposition would be well advised to get ready for a showdown at the polls as soon as possible.

If indeed the Filipino people are as disgusted with the president as the oppositionists and pollsters say, it should be an easy win for all those running under the Bash-GMA banner.

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