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Strong quake shakes Bicol

In Makati last Friday, there were more than 15,000 people who joined the Interfaith Rally to protest against the Arroyo administration, but organizers claimed there were 75,000 who joined the rally. Whether it is 15,000 or 75,000, this represents a very small percentage of the 10 million people who live in Metro Manila alone. No other major rallies were simultaneously held in any provincial city. Although last Sunday, another “mass for truth” was held at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, with hundreds of students and church workers joining former President Aquino and some members of the opposition.

The obvious question is – does the majority of the Filipino people really want the immediate resignation of President Arroyo?

Most of the senators from the opposition surprisingly did not join last Friday’s rally that was led by two former presidents, Aquino and Estrada. From the various newspaper reports we have read, most of the senators would rather wait for the results of the ongoing Senate investigation. The Vice-President, Mr. Noli de Castro is being accused by anti-GMA groups of fence-sitting, but we admire the stance he is taking. In a Business World news report yesterday, Mr. de Castro clarified that he was prepared to be the President but was not preparing to unseat Mrs. Arroyo. He said, “Being prepared and preparing are two different things. I am aware of my constitutional duty as Vice-President… but to say that I am preparing to take over the presidency, short of saying that I have a shadow Cabinet, does not look good”.

I am happy that most of our politicians and leaders, especially from the opposition, would rather uphold the Constitution and base their actions on the facts and what is the truth. I am also of the belief that any evidence should be presented in the proper courts and to let the facts decide the issue. If President Arroyo is indeed guilty of corruption, and there is sufficient evidence to prove it, then a case should be filed. That is the rule of law. To spark protests with the end in view of developing “a new people power”, as it was called, is not within the Constitution, and anything that is not in the Constitution is not good.

Imelda Marcos herself expressed alarm over an attempt, as she said, “to lay the scenario similar to the one that prevailed shortly before the ouster of my husband, the late President Ferdinand Marcos.” She urged the people to check the credibility of the people calling for the President’s ouster. And I agree. To me, the more serious mistake is undermining the Office of the President, the top leadership post in the land. This is a position where only the Filipino people can elect a chosen leader. The opinion of a few people cannot be forced on the majority, otherwise, anarchy will prevail.

The people should watch the developments unfold and use this critical event to test each politician and leader, particularly those who have signified their intentions to run for the next presidential elections. Being a political leader is a great achievement, but being a true statesman is rare. Who will have an insurmountable will to take the interests of the nation and its people above self-will and political ambition? We, as a people, should be more discerning.

 

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