A lesson and a warning

Ang Pahayagang Malaya

‘This is a lesson and warning which Arroyo can ignore only at her peril.’

The Makati Business Club yesterday declared its opposition to charter change aimed at extending the term of Gloria Arroyo. It said Arroyo no longer enjoys the support and confidence of the majority of the people. It added the people look forward to national renewal through the general elections in 2010. It said efforts at canceling the exercise will be met with the strongest opposition from all sectors of society.

The MBC position, including its declared alignment with all forces committed to the holding of the 2010 elections, is clear as clear can be. It should give the lie to those self-proclaimed industry leaders, whose only visible business is kissing the rump of whoever is in power, that business favors constitutional "reforms."

Through the MBC, the purported beneficiaries of charter change, especially as this relates to the lifting of constitutional limitations on doing business, have effectively disowned the initiative which was purportedly launched to promote their interests.

The House Cha-Cha drive is anchored on the resolution sponsored by Speaker Prospero Nograles which seeks to allow foreigners to own land. But owning land, as we have repeatedly said in this space, is way, way down the concerns of foreign investors.

On top is corruption, followed by effective governance. The Arroyo administration has miserably failed in addressing these concerns. As the MBC pointed out in its statement yesterday, "Mrs. Arroyo no longer has the support and confidence of the majority of our people, not only because she continues to serve under a dubious mandate, but also because of the unending corruption scandals that have marked her administration and her unwillingness to address these issues."

Business probably can live with institutionalized corruption. It has, after all, the wherewithal to buy every corrupt official in the land. What it fears most is instability, a fear which is not expressed but can be gleaned from the MBC statement.

Continued stay in power by the near-universally despised and hated Gloria will only strengthen political forces that are anti-business. We saw the same thing happen during the time of Ferdinand Marcos. For a time, it was touch and go whether Marcos could be ousted before the leftist rebellion marched triumphant. In the end the middle forces - backed by the Church, business and, finally, the military – succeeded in throwing out Marcos and in so doing preempted the left.

There is a lesson here, which Arroyo should learn. And a warning, which she could ignore only at her peril.

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