Nobody's listening to Arroyo

By Ellen Tordesillas
Ang Pahayagang Malaya

Gloria Arroyo has lost control. She should resign.

She has lost control not only of herself (look up her throwing tantrum video last Monday in YouTube) but also of the government.

She should resign to spare the country further destruction, not only in terms of loss of lives but damage to democratic institutions.

Calls for Arroyo to resign are nothing new ever since the “Hello Garci” tapes surfaced which exposed her to have masterminded cheating in the 2004 elections. But she has effectively placated her political adversaries. This time, however, she has expended her political capital. Derided by majority of Filipinos, Arroyo’s words have no value.

Even MILF spokesman Mohagher Iqbal is not taking her seriously.

Asked by ANC’s Tony Velasquez about Arroyo’s latest policy statement abandoning negotiation and shifting to “dialogue with the communities” (whatever that means), Iqbal said, “I don’t want to comment. Kapag ang isang tao ay emotional kung ano-ano ang nasasabi.

Iqbal must have also observed that Arroyo is confused and panicking. Her statements give us reason to doubt if she has a good grasp of the situation on the ground. What does she mean by “Engagements with all armed groups shall be about disarmament, demobilization, and rehabilitation or DDR.”

Is she ordering the AFP to disarm the MILF? Is this an order for an all-out war?

At this time when the people have had enough of secrecy and obfuscation, she comes up with declarations that “From negotiations, our focus shall shift to dialogues with the communities or government conducting authentic conversations or dialogue with the people… about the people and government telling armed groups to give up armed struggle.” The people telling the MILF to give up their arms? Hello?

Arroyo’s deputy spokesperson announced the cancellation of the GRP-MILF Memorandum of Agreement On Ancestral Domain that would have been signed last August 5 in Kuala Lumpur had it not been for the temporary restraining order by the Supreme Court. She said the government will work out a new agreement with the MILF.

MILF’s Iqbal rejected any suggestion of renegotiation.

Fr. Eliseo Mercado. OMI, who has worked closely with the GRP-MILF peace panel said, “GMA is suspect from the very start. Whether we are for GMA or not, the fact remains that her credibility and popularity are almost nil. No peace agreement anywhere in the planet can be negotiated with that standing.”

Mindanao is being held together by the military taking to heart their Constitutional duty “as protector of the people and the State.” Arroyo, the commander-in-chief, is merely catching up with the armed forces. In fact, she issued her order for the military and police “to defend every inch of Philippine territory against MILF forces, and immediately restore peace in the affected areas in Lanao de Norte” when the military was already conducting mopping up operations. MILF’s Commander Bravo was already back in his “territory” after attacking municipalities in Lanao del Norte, burning houses and killing those who resisted.

The people have to be thankful that AFP chief Alexander Yano does not share the view of his predecessor, presidential peace adviser Hermogenes Esperon who told North Cotabato Vice Governor Manny PiƱol that it’s the policy of the government not to “sacrifice the lives of the soldiers” if communities are attacked by MILF if the MOA on ancestral domain if blocked by the Supreme Court.

Arroyo should take her cue from her 2005 visitor, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who resigned last Monday after nine years in power rather than be impeached. She is in no danger of being impeached given her hold on the pork barrel-loving congressmen. But if things get out of hand and Arroyo is seen as incapable of governing anymore, more messy scenarios could unfold.

She still has the option to resign and negotiate her exit which could include exile in a castle in Europe where she can enjoy her brandy. That’s definitely better than being ousted and landing in jail.


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