The new Speaker of the House of Representatives Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.  (Photo courtesy of GMA Network)


Although I had expected the fall of Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez and the political resurrection of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, my feelings were mixed upon reading reports that the former president had been elected to replace the Davao congressman as Speaker of the House of Representatives in a coup that overshadowed a fairly decent State of the Nation Address by President Duterte.

I could have rejoiced with the knowledge that the wings of the high-flying, power-hungry Alvarez had been clipped so mightily you could hear the thud when he fell to the ground.

Alvarez, who created a lot more enemies than friends in his two-year stint as leader of that chaotic chamber, was ousted by a vote of 184 House members with 12 abstentions.

It was so overwhelming and the coup so decisive, Alvarez opted to be away from the session hall when it happened.

Alvarez brought the downfall on himself after having been so obsessed with power, he acted and spoke like he was the president.

He was indeed the alter-ego of the feisty Duterte in the Legislative Branch but in the end, even his friend could not do anything to save him.

Alvarez’s downfall started when he elected to feud with the President’s daughter, the equally feisty Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who vowed to bring him down and indeed was reported to have led the House uprising from her throne in Davao.

Alvarez had allegedly told reporters that Sara was feuding with her father and that she had formed her Mindanao political party without Duterte’s blessing.

Now, even his chances of being reelected to his seat representing the first district of Davao del Norte has become dim, while Sara’s political might appeared to gain foothold in preparation for a run at national politics possibly next year.

Alvarez started compiling enemies in the lower chamber when he pressured lawmakers belonging to the House supermajority to vote in favor of the re-imposition of the death penalty and threatened removal from their leadership position.

Among those he ousted was Arroyo, who was then a deputy speaker.

Although an ally and known Duterte supporter during the presidential campaign, Arroyo rejected the re-imposition of the death penalty and wouldn’t budge to Alvarez’s threats.

But talks of a possible coup came as early as March 2017 after Alvarez filed a graft complaint against his longtime friend, Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. (second district) over the Tadeco land deal reportedly after a spat between their mistresses.

Apparently, Floirendo, Duterte’s biggest financial supporter during the campaign, had his revenge.

Alvarez steered the House to become Duterte’s persecution arm as it went after the administration’s most severe critics, including Sen. Leila de Lima, Vice President Leni Robredo, ousted Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno and retiring Onbudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, using impeachment threats and committee hearings.

He immersed himself into so many controversies in an obvious effort to please and show undivided loyalty to his boss.

Lately, he proposed the postponement of the 2019 elections to give way to a plebiscite on the proposed constitutional amendments and a shift to federalism, which led many to claim that Alvarez was worried about his reelection chances.

It was his first sign of weakness in an otherwise solid-looking hold on the Duterte coalition.

It was definitely good riddance, but there is not much reason to rejoice.

A known political manipulator with a dubious record as national leader is taking his place.

She was the beneficiary of the second People Power Revolt at EDSA to oust a sitting President who had survived an impeachment trial.

But there were reliable reports that Arroyo, with the help of her husband Mike Arroyo, had been plotting a coup against President Joseph Estrada in connivance with some AFP generals several weeks before the EDSA Revolt.

No stranger to coups, Arroyo herself was the subject of four coup attempts by disgruntled military officers, and was nearly ousted by massive protests following the “Garci” scandal where she was caught on tape instructing Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano to ensure a million vote victory over the late actor Fernando Poe Jr. in 2004.

And so, she was just being true to herself when she connived with ranking lawmakers in plotting a coup against Alvarez that would put her back within a few breaths away from the presidency again.

Here’s what I wrote about Arroyo in the closing months of her nine-year presidency (“The Lost Decade,” Jan. 4, 2010):

“Some Filipino businessmen call it the ‘lost decade,’ the first 10 years of the third millennium that was characterized by scandals, graft and corruption, political violence and intense political divisiveness that, in turn, resulted in lost opportunities for them and more difficult conditions for the Filipino people.

“It was a decade ushered in by hope and ended in despair for millions of Filipinos, who had hoped early on that the ouster of an immoral and inept president and the crowning of a new face in Malacañang would start a glorious era for the country. Instead, the decade was marked by disunity, decadence and despair.

“Many Filipinos had hoped that the ouster of President Joseph Estrada and the rise of an untested, but promising Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would finally put the country on the path to economic recovery. Arroyo, after all, had promised in her first State-Of-The-Nation Address (SONA) to pursue job creation, education, housing and food security as the central points of her promised war against poverty. She even towed along three impoverished Payatas kids who, she said, had launched paper boats that contained wishes for jobs for their parents, food on their table and roof on their heads. The paper boats were supposed to have landed in Malacañang.

“But one could see that beyond the dramatics was a clear shade of hypocrisy, because none of the four goals of her administration was ever accomplished. Instead of the Enchanted Kingdom that she promised, one could only see signs of a Disenchanted Population and a Despaired Nation.

“Less than a year into her presidency, which took nearly the entire first decade of the millennium, the true colors of the Arroyo administration surfaced with the Jose Pidal Scandal when her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, was implicated in a jueteng payoff controversy that pointed to a multi-million peso bank account under the name of Jose Pidal. Mike Arroyo was identified as the Jose Pidal, but Gloria Arroyo didn’t lift a finger to investigate the matter. Mike’s brother, Ignacio Arroyo, later claimed he was Jose Pidal and that he owned the account, as if it made any difference that he was not the presidential husband, but just the presidential brother-in-law.

“Scandals after scandals rocked the Arroyo administration, but she would just ignore them and ask the nation repeatedly to do the same and move on.

“On Dec. 30, 2003, Arroyo’s hypocrisy became even more evident when she promised before the monument of the country’s national hero, Jose Rizal, on the day the nation commemorated his ultimate sacrifice, that she would not run for the presidency in 2004, and that she would instead focus on her administration’s goals of combating poverty uplifting the lives of the people. The statement, of course, smacked of hypocrisy and many, including this writer, could see it in the usual smirk on her face.

“True enough, the announcement was just a ploy to hopefully reverse her precariously sliding popularity. And when she thought nobody was looking, she suddenly announced that she would, after all, seek a second shot at the presidency in the May 2004 elections.

“When the protests mounted in the aftermath of the controversy and threatened her presidency, Arroyo showed again another aspect of her personality — her penchant to circumvent the law and impose her will on the Filipino people. She was not just a hypocritical, scheming, callous and dishonest leader, she was emerging as a tyrant.

“In quick succession, Arroyo issued three executive orders that challenged the Constitution — the Calibrated Preemptive Response (CPR) that ordered the police to break up protest rallies, thereby stifling the people’s right to peaceably assemble to redress their grievances; Proclamation 1017 or a state of emergency that allowed warrant-less arrests and seizures, resulting in the arrest of several opposition leaders and media personalities and the padlocking of a newspaper; and Executive Order 464 that suppressed Congress’s constitutional power to investigate in aid of legislation by preventing high government and military officials from giving incriminating testimony to Congress.

“Emboldened by the passive resistance to these obviously unconstitutional measures and by the Supreme Court’s acquiescence, Arroyo would move in the latter part of the decade to circumvent the constitutional limit on her term by pushing for charter change (cha-cha) that would replace the present presidential form of government to a parliamentary one, where she hopes to be elected prime minister for as long as she could hold the loyalty of members of the Parliament.”

Do all these sound familiar?

Yes, because it is happening all over again.

Duterte and Arroyo are of the same mold.

When Arroyo was jailed and later placed under hospital arrest for four years with the filing of plunder charges against her, and with that ever-present brace around her neck, many thought Arroyo was politically dead.

But now, she is back!

Only the elevation of former Sen. Bongbong Marcos to vice presidency following a rumored legal victory in his poll protest against Robredo is needed to complete a Duterte-Marcos-Arroyo triumvirate.

What else is common with these three aside from their fascist tendencies and disrespect for human rights and the rule of law?

Their subservience to China.

Should we rejoice, or should we weep for our country?

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Add comment

Security code

Latest comments