I live my life like there’s no tomorrow
And all I’ve got, I had to steal.
– Van Halen, “Running With The Devil”
Life must go on for many of us, I guess, who have developed a very disapproving perspective at Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It’s not a personal dislike, but one that came from broken promises and betrayals that tested the limits of the acceptable. Acts that crossed what can be tolerated from a President. For the longest time that I’ve been writing under the rule of this Administration, I guess I made a pretty good portfolio of stuff that should, if at all, indict the President of the Philippines for every crime, shortcoming, compromise, and mistake she has committed against the Filipino.
One of my professors once said that politics isn’t the act of upholding the ideal. Rather, it is the fine art of compromise. That, I guess, is what eight-going-on-nine years of the Arroyo administration was all about. Not for the greater good, not for freedom, not for justice, and certainly not for equity. The Arroyo administration tested the limits and pushed it. In any sane, just situation there wouldn’t be extrajudicial killings or massacres. Disasters would be mitigated. No one would question the mandate of a country’s President for years on end, and question the very premises by which that mandate was made possible.
I don’t cast blame on Arroyo for everything wrong with the Philippines after her regime is over, as much as I hold her responsible because of who she is: the President of this country. Yet even I question the “rabid” anger I have against the President for the past nine years. The answer occurred to me tonight: as much as I’ve been doing my fair share as a citizen to do what is right, to do what it takes, and to contribute to the improvement of this nation, the same cannot be said for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. I’m not at the forefront of electoral fraud, graft and corruption, extrajudicial killings, and an economic downward spiral: she is. Not me.
I’m being a good citizen. She isn’t a good President. That’s as short and succinct as it is going to get.
The very same person who has denigrated People Power, the very person who has made a mockery of the electoral process, the very person who has compromised the institutions of this country’s democracy, happens to be the President of the Philippines. The Government exists to keep her in power and to assure her of some hold of it by the time she steps down; what with generals, appointees in agencies and the Supreme Court, the mad rush for Charter Change, the mistake of almost splitting up Maguindanao, Government officials paying tribute to her.
“Let’s wait for 2010,” they said. Here we are, about a month before election year, and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is running for Congress. Granted that she can. Granted that there may be no legal or Constitutional obstacle that keeps her from doing so. Granted that she may not win. Politics – the economics of power that’s supposed to balance out the order of things and make it as just and as fair as possible – was turned to compromise in favor of the Arroyo name, the Arroyo legacy, and the power that comes with being one and the same or allied with an Arroyo.
The devil runs, and her name is Gloria.