Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (2001-Present)
- CONDITION OF THE PHILIPPINES
The Philippines came close to a financial meltdown in 2001 during the impeachment of Former President Estrada. The revenues were too low, with its $54.8 billion in foreign debt too high which followed a lower nation credit rating. In addition to this foreign investors were reluctant to invest in the Philippines at that time due to the political crisis the country was experiencing.
The impeachment case against failed to push through, the people marched to the streets and EDSA 2 was born. When Former President Estrada was finally removed from Malacanang, there was another rally attempt by Estrada’s supporters. This attempt was supposedly “EDSA 3” but it failed due to the lack of supporters.
Former President Joseph Estrada left President Arroyo with a country which needed to recover due to the political crisis and the economic crisis. Estrada has left Arroyo with a lot of problems. When Estrada was forced out of office, there were numerous rallies by Estrada’s supporters; some resulted into a bloody confrontation between Erap Supporters and the police. It was a challenge to Arroyo to gain the trust of not only her people but of the trust of the investors as well. She needed to encourage more investments to improve the economy and to improve the lives of the Filipino’s. It was Arroyo’s challenge to bring the Filipino’s back to its feet.
- PRIMARY PROBLEMS
• There have been more than 840 killings in the Philippines since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power.
• One of the major problems of the Philippines are the arbitrary, unlawful and extrajudicial killings which includes the death of journalists.
• More than half of the journalists who were killed after Marcos’ time were killed during the Arroyo administration. Only in three cases of killings were the killers been convicted but no mastermind was brought to court.
• The Philippines is now considered as the second most dangerous country to practice journalism next to Iraq.
• Even though there are intense efforts of the government to investigate and prosecute the cases of killings, many cases were still unresolved and a lot of them are still not punished.
• Corruption scandals during the Arroyo Administration in the last seven years have cost the Filipinos around 7.3 billion pesos.
• With at least six corruption cases so far, President Arroyo has now been considered the most corrupt president in the Philippines.
• Corruption has greatly benefited the Arroyo Administration while it continues to worsen the condition of the Philippines specifically contribute more to poverty.
• Corruption is a problem in all the institutions of the Philippines including the criminal justice system specifically the police, prosecutorial and judicial organs.
- Budget Mismanagement
• Education, health, and public infrastructure were not given much priority even though there were large increases in the national budget.
• The president relied on reenacted budget; none of the proposed regular budgets were approved on time. In three of the nine years as president, she ran the government without an approved budget.
• Poverty is most rampant in the rural areas of the Philippines. Even though there is a share of poverty in the National Capital Region, the rate of poverty in rural areas than urban areas is still a lot higher. The rural poor are the unemployed or self-employed in agriculture or only casual labor who are landless.
• Poverty has worsened because of high inflation and unemployment. The Philippines has not yet surpassed poverty unlike neighboring countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia who are rapidly reducing poverty at present.
• President Arroyo promised to create 10 million jobs from 2004-2010 but didn’t reach this target. A lot of decent jobs in the manufacturing sector disappeared and more less secure jobs emerged.
• Since unemployment, poverty and hunger go together, this just shows the failure of the Philippine social-protection program who doesn’t
provide enough protection for the less fortunate and unemployed. All these three have worsened under the Arroyo Administration.
- PROMISES DURING THE ELECTIONS AND INAUGURATION
The “10-point agenda” outlined by Macapagal-Arroyo during her inaugural address last June 30, 2001:
1. “I shall have created more than six million jobs, perhaps, even 10 million jobs… I shall have supported three million entrepreneurs by giving them loans and helping them become good managers… I shall have developed one million hectares, if possible two million of agribusiness land by making them productive and transporting their products to the markets efficiently.
2. “Everyone of school age will be in school in an uncrowded classroom, in surroundings conducive to learning. Hangad kong makapasok sa eskuwela ang bawat bata. Mayroong sapat na lugar sa silid-aralan at may computer sa bawat aralan. (I wish for all children to be able to go to school. With enough classroom and computers at every school).
3. “I shall have balanced the budget by collecting the right revenues and spending on the right things.
4. “The network of transport and digital infrastructure on which my government embarked in the last three years will have linked the entire country.
5. “Power and water will be regularly provided to all barangays (villages).
6. “Metro Manila will be decongested with economic activity growing and spreading to new centers of government, business and community in Luzon, in the Visayas and in Mindanao.
7. “The Subic-Clark corridor will be the most competitive international service and logistic center in the Southeast Asian Region.
8. “Elections will no longer raise a single doubt about their integrity. The electoral process will be completely computerized.
9. “Peace will have come to Mindanao. All insurgence shall have turned their swords into plowshares. They will have become so absorbed into one society that the struggles of the past will be just a stuff of legend.
10. “The divisive issues generated by EDSA I, II and III will also be just memories shared by friends from every side in those upheavals… Only the lessons of unity, courage and a just closure left alive in their hearts.”
(Gloria M. Arroyo, 2001)
- LAWS AND PROGRAMS
- Restoring Political Stability and Building New Politics
President Arroyo wanted to resolve the political crisis through restoring the confidence of the people in the government through:
• Making a Selection Committee to recruit a Cabinet team who is committed to the values of the administration
• Establishing partnerships with the civil society by involving people in governance.
• Opening up peace initiatives to address threats specifically regarding the Muslim rebels to make them obey the law and list them as soldiers in the war against poverty.
• Restoring the rule of law in order to fight crimes such as smuggling, kidnapping, and corruption.
- Building High Standards of Morality and Performance
• These are the foundations of good governance.
• Implementing anti-corruption programs starting with the Administrative Order No.1 which forbids the relatives and top officials of the president to form contracts with the government.
• Making a new Anti-Graft Commission which will promote integrity among the officials and presidential appointees.
- Promote Economic Revival through Social Equity
• Implementing a monetary policy in order to keep the inflation rate low while providing liquidity for growth.
• Create new micro-financing guidelines so that loans may be more available to the poor.
• Banking reforms to promote transparency, enhanced competition, financial soundness and modernization with the help of expanded foreign participation in domestic banks.
• By joining hands with business to strengthen information and communications technology (ICT) while encouraging rural industries.
- Battle of the Budget
• Through keeping the budget deficit below P145 billion or 3.8% of GNP through different revenue programs in order to make funds available for businesses.
• Monitoring local government remittances, strengthening audit and tax reform programs by computerization to improve tax collections.
- The Anti-Poverty Strategy
The anti-poverty strategy is based on these five programs namely asset distribution, human development services, protection from violence, more livelihood opportunities for the poor and greater participation in governance and social life.
a. Asset Distribution
• “Land for the landless”
• Provide facilities for the poor by the improvement of the slums
• Provide financial assistance for the housing of OFW’s, the employees with low salaries, and the AFP/PNP personnel
• Address housing problems through restructured home loans
• Spend 20 billion pesos to finance agricultural modernization to improve the productivity and salaries/incomes of farmers and fishermen.
b. Human Development Services
• Improve health care and education services for the poor.
c. Protection from Violence
• Promote anti poverty programs to vulnerable groups including the children, women, elderly, disabled and refugees from conflicts by handing them the resources they need to improve their lives.
• Conduct entrepreneurial and livelihood seminars/talks/trainings for the rural workers, working women and union members.
d. More Livelihood Opportunities
• Finance agricultural projects
• Provide employment assistance
• Provide 17,000 jobs through the 38.7 billion pesos worth of new investments.
• Finance and facilitate loans totaling 127 million pesos to improve the productivity of enterprises.
- Charter change
• In the president’s SONA, she said that the system of government needs fundamental change and the debate on Charter Change should start immediately. She initiated a movement to overthrow the present form of government and make it into a federal parliamentary-unicameral form of government. It still remains as a proposed policy because it is obviously not yet implemented
• In the last 2006, her House of Representatives planned to revise the constitution through the constituent assembly.
• Executive Order No. 464 and Calibrated Preemptive Response
• Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 464 which states that demonstrations or otherwise known as rallies should have permits or they would be preemptively stopped.
- Human Rights
• Killings were rampant during the Arroyo administration that is why independent commissions were assembled to investigate them.
• Arroyo promised to bring peace through the anti-terrorism legislation
- Amnesty Proclamation 1377
• President Arroyo signed the Amnesty Proclamation 1377 which is for the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.
• The amnesty would cover up the crime of rebellion and all other crimes fighting for political beliefs but will not include the crimes against chastity, rape, torture, kidnapping for ransom, use and trafficking of illegal drugs and other crimes leading to personal ends which violate international law provided that they surrender/return their trust in the society.
- Estrada Pardon
• President Arroyo granted Former President Estrada pardon based on the recommendation of the Department f Justice
• Estrada was freed from his Tanay rest house on October 6.
- Conversion Order (The Sumilao Farmers’ March)
• President Arroyo rescinded the conversion order on the 144 hectare lot in Sumilao, Bukidnon so that land owenership may be returned to 55 members of the Higainon tribe farmers
• The order signed by Eduardo Ermita, the Executive Secretary indicates that: “Wherefore premises considered and as recommended by DAR, the petition for cancellation and/or revocation of the conversion order covering 144 hectares of land…is hereby granted.”
- BENEFICIARIES OF THE LAWS AND PROGRAMS
President Arroyo promised to continue working on poverty alleviation until she is president and expressed hope for her pro-poor programs and reforms which would be continued and maintained until the next administration.
Among all of her projects and programs including housing, health, educational, agricultural, development services and a lot more, she has only a fraction of Filipinos, an estimated 5,000 beneficiaries who benefited from them and showed support for them.
On the other hand, some say that since 2001-2006, the Arroyo Administration has not made improvements and development of the Philippines especially in the rural sector. Those who only benefited from her programs were the foreign big businesses and the pro-Arroyos including the big compradors, landlords, and toped officials of the Armed Forces and National Police.
- HOLES AND SHORTCOMINGS OF THE LAWS
• 3h Anti-poverty groups believe that President Arroyo’s policies regarding poverty are not effective. In order to help and improve the lives of the less fortunate, they proposed policies such as supporting the completion of the CARP by increasing public investments in health, education, water and sanitation, and human development services.
• Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) problems during the Aquino Administration which are still present today:
• Extension of the land appraisal process
• Very few and extremely vague guidelines for landowner compensation
• Extended landowner-tenant negotiations
• Lack of technical organization
• Inconsistent execution/implementation of program
• The Amnesty Proclamation 1377 cannot convince the hardcore communists to surrender because the root cause of their rebellions which is to address their problems is still not answered and addressed by the government. This program would only lead to graft and corruption because of the money being given out to the returnees.
• The government’s implementation of the rice productivity program is very expensive, ineffective and inefficient. The Hybrid Rice Commercialization Program (HRCP) is the new technology by the government. However the results of this program were not very good. The rate of adoption of the hybrid rice was very low and there is a high dropout rate of the farmers because the seeds of the hybrid rice are very expensive and hard to get.
• The liberalization, deregulation and privatization policies of the Arroyo administration made the Philippine economy more vulnerable to the rampant monopolies (global and local). The administration is the one to blame for the wrong national policies that have exposed the country and its people to the cruel impact of the recent global crisis.
• The Oil Deregulation Law which allows the local oil firm to increase their prices on top of the monopoly imposed oil prices in the international market. Because of this the number of poor Filipinos would increasingly grow up if the oil prices trends are there.
- ISSUES AND CONTROVERSIES
- Hello “Garci” Controversy (June 2005 – Present)
The Hello “Garci” Controversy is about wiretapped recordings of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s conversations with COMELEC Commissioner Virgilio Garcilliano. The conversations was about rigging or cheating the 2004 national elections. Former NBI Deputy Director Samuel Ong released the wiretapped tapes; he also claimed that he had the “mother of all tapes” which was released a few days later. The National Telecommunications Commission initially banned the playing of the tapes in the media, and threatened that any media group who plays the tapes will be forced to close. The tape was then allowed by the Supreme Court to be aired by the media with a vote of 9 – 6, this was against the NTC’s decision.
In the tape a woman who sounds like Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was talking to Virgilio “Garci” Garcilliano about by how many votes she would win in her run for the presidency. In the conversation she asked if she would win by a million votes and Garci replied that she will; coincidentally or suspiciously she did win by over a million votes in the 2004 presidential elections.
GMA admitted that she was the woman in the wiretapped conversations but said that she only talked to Garci after the counting has been done. She also aired on national television her apology to the public for her “lapse in judgement”, this act was supposed to reduce the tensions the issue has created however this backfired and it created more tensions and more calls for her to step down.
Virgilio Garcilliano’s whereabouts were unknown right after the Hello Garci tapes came out. There were even some rumors that he was able to escape the country. 5 Months later he resurfaced and admitted that he was the one talking to GMA in the tapes but the conversation took place after the counting of votes had been done. He also denied that GMA instructed him to cheat in the 2004 national elections.
The issue created a lot of tension and anger in the public. Thousands went to the street to call for GMA to step down. There was even an attempt to create another People Power, this failed however due to the lack of protestors that attended the peaceful gathering. GMA survived the storm; this issue was the biggest issue that threatened her presidency. Until now the issue has not yet been solved, and no one has been punished.
- Oakwood Mutiny (July 27, 2003)
A group composing of more than 300 fully armed soldiers took over Oakwood Premier in Ayala, Makati City. The soldiers were led by Navy Ltsg. Antonio Trillanes IV, Army Capt. Gerardo Gambala, Army Capt. Milo Maestrecampo, Navy Ltsg. James Layug and Marine Capt. Gary Alejano.
The group called themselves the new “katipuneros” but they were dubbed y the media as the “magdalo” soldiers. They claim that the taking over of the Oakwood Premier in Makati was spontaneous, and that their goal was only to be able to air their grievances and complaints about the corruption in the military and in the government. They also stated that the saw signs that GMA was going to declare martial law.
One of the accusations made by the soldiers was that the Arroyo administration was selling arms and ammunitions to the enemy forces. These enemy forces include the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf. Also they claim that Arroyo issued the order to bomb Davao City so that Arroyo would be able to ask the United States of America for anti-terrorist support. Arroyo also planned to bomb several areas in Metro Manila so that she could declare martial law.
Some of the grievances include general cases like the corruption of the government and its officials, low salaries of soldiers and the difference of salaries between the AFP soldiers and the Air Force Pilots, insufficient supply of medicines in the army and the powerful “comptroller” family who is enjoying promotions and positions and are manipulating funds and that the government funds for the soldiers never or seldom reach them.
The bloodless mutiny ended after 18 hours. The soldiers surrendered as they failed to rally support from the public. All the 300 soldiers were arrested and charged in the general court martial.
On September 24, 2004 the soldiers apologized to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and took back the accusations against top AFP officials. Currently majority of the soldiers have been released and some soldiers have escaped military custody.
- Proclamation 1017 (February 24, 2006)
“I Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Republic of the Philippines and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested upon me by Section 18, Article 7 of the Philippine Constitution which states that: ” The President…whenever it becomes necessary,…may call out (the) armed forces to prevent or suppress…rebellion…, ” and in my capacity as their Commander-in-Chief, do hereby command the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to maintain law and order throughout the Philippines, prevent or suppress all forms of lawless violence as well any act of insurrection or rebellion and to enforce obedience to all the laws and to all decrees, orders and regulations promulgated by me personally or upon my direction; and as provided in Section 17, Article 12 of the Constitution do hereby declare a State of National Emergency.”
On February 24, 2006, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo used her emergency powers and issued Proclamation 1017. The proclamation was called a “state of national emergency” and was similar to Martial Law primarily because she will be able to order arrests without warrants. The proclamation came after the Armed Forces of the Philippines received reports that some officials of the armed forces will announce their withdrawal of support from GMA during the anniversary of the People Power Edsa 1 Revolution. To prevent this GMA issued the proclamation to ensure that there will be no rebellion or violent coup attempts.
AFP Chief Generoso Sanga revealed that Danilo Lim, one of the commanders of an elite force in the AFP was the one planning to withdraw his support of GMA. Lim then was relieved of his port and was placed under Sanga’s custody. Police also suspended all gun carrying licenses and did not allow the public to carry weapons.
The next day, police raided offices of the newspaper Daily tribune and also sent armed men in civilian clothing to go around the offices of Abante a tabloid newspaper. The military was also sent to surround the offices of ABS-CBN and GMA Network. The government claimed that they were only protecting these establishments from potential takeovers from destabilizers.
16 people were arrested and charged with rebellion, these people included Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casiño and Joel Virador of Bayan Muna, Anakpawis Reps. Beltran and Rafael Mariano, and Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza.
Former President Cory Aquino was allowed to have a rally in Ayala but the rally was dispersed right after Cory Aquino left.
The proclamation lasted for a week, after this President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo lifted the proclamation. Petitions questioning the legality of the proclamation were raised by a number of groups and people. A few months later the Supreme Court declared that the proclamation was indeed legal however the acts done in implementing the proclamation were not.
- NBN-ZTE Controversy (April 2007)
The NBN-ZTE controversy is about a deal between the Philippines and XTE Corporation, a company in china. The deal was worth $329.59 Million and was aimed at improving the communication capabilities of the Philippines. On August 29, 2007, Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla, disclosed on his privilege speech that COMELEC chairman Benjamin Abalos has been going to China not just for leisure but to broker a deal with the XTE Corporation. He also said that there were two other corporations willing to do the job for the Philippines at lower prices but was turned down. These two other private companies offered cheaper prices than ZTE Corporation.
Abalos denied these accusations but also admitted that he knew some of the officials in ZTE Corporation. A few days later on September 10, 2007, Jose de Venecia III issued an affidavit stating that he was with Abalos in china and heard Ablaos demanding money from the officials of the ZTE Corporation. The Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order preventing the contract from pushing through.
On September 18, 2007, while testifying to in the senate, Jose de Venecia III revealed that the First Gentleman Mike Arroyo told him to “back off” from pursuing the deal. A few days later President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo suspended the deal because of “political criticisms”. She also claimed that the alleged corruption was investigated and that the reports after the investigation were uncorroborated.
During the hearings the Senate ordered Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, who was the President of Philippine Forest Corporation and was said to have knowledge that the deal was overpriced, to attend the senate hearing. Lozada did not attend the hearing and was able to fly out of the country 2 hours before the start of the hearing. The Senate then ordered the arrest of Jun Lozada. On February 5, 2008, Jun Lozada arrived at the NAIA international airport and was taken away by unidentified men. Lozada claims that the men blindfolded him and was talking about where he was supposed to be killed. This was prevented however since text messages from his family to media revealed that there was going to be something bad that was to happen to Jun Lozada. The next day the PNP admits that Jun Lozada was in their custody.
On February 7, 2008, Jun Lozada appeared in a pre-dawn conference in La Salle Greenhills and narrated his experience on how he was taken away against his will. In the following weeks Jun Lozada testified in the senate, fearing for his life. He said that Abalos threatened to have him killed and that when he left the NBN project the project was priced at $262 million but it ballooned to $329.5 Million when it was approved.
The hearings were conducted; with Lozada as the “whistleblower” and a lot of government officials were implicated and involved in the issue. This included First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, Former Mayor Lito Atienza and Former COMELEC chairman Benjamin Abalos. Until now the controversy never reached a conclusion and truth and justice has yet to be achieved.
- Gloria Arroyo’s Expensive Dinners
The public began noticing the expensive dinners that President Macapagal Arroyo was having when an article from the New York Post reported that GMA and her entourage to the US dined in the famous Le Cirque in New York and spent $20,000 or almost 1 Million Pesos.
The report said that GMA ordered several expensive bottles of wine which pushed the tab to $20,000. Considering the economic downturn in the Philippines and the continuous increase in unemployment and poverty ratings, the expensive dinner resulted into a lot of criticisms against GMA. Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay bashed GMA for her expensive dinner and said that $20,000 can already give 30,000 people 3 square meals in a day. He also noted that if GMA indeed used public funds to pay for the meal then it should be deplorable. If she used her own money to pay for the dinner then it is really insensitive to the millions of Filipino’s who experience hunger everyday in the Philippines.
Bishops also criticized the expensive dinner and said that it was very “imprudent” and the public deserves an explanation and an apology. Then Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said that it was Romualdez that paid for the dinner however this was not believed by the public and called Cerge a “certified liar”. Cerge said that this dinner issue was only a way to anger the people and turn them against GMA, also to help ease the situation he ordered the financial statements regarding the trip to be shown to the public.
After this issue several reports regarding a $15,000 dinner in Washington also came out. The issue then was never resolved and now only exists as a memory.
- SUMMARY OF GOVERNANCE
President Arroyo was named the 14th president of the Philippines during the People Power II, January 20, 2001 in Edsa when former President Joseph Estrada was forced out of office because of allegations of plunder and corruption. The president faced a lot of challenges in her early presidency which includes an unstable economy and protests by the supporters of Estrada. Another one of her problems include the ongoing battle between the government and the rebels. Despite the problems and issues regarding her administration, she has also done a lot for the Philippines including lifting the Philippines out of its financial crisis.
In 2004, she won the elections and was elected to a full term presidency until 2010. During her inaugural speech, she vowed to create 10 million jobs in the next six years, balance the budget of the Philippines, improve tax collection through computerization, provide cheap medicine for the poor and unite the country.
Until now, she has been arguably the most unpopular president of the Philippines. This is because of her numerous unanswered issues and controversies like the Hello Garci scandal, expensive dinners during her visit to the United States, and many more.
- GRADE (DLSU SYSTEM)
President Arroyo’s failure to improve the economy and her government is considered as one things that pulled her down. According to statistics, the Philippines’ rating on voice and accountability was 54.3% during 2000 and now dropped to 41.3% because of the killings, human rights violations, etc. With regards to political stability, there was also a drop in the rating; the Philippines is only better than one out of the 10 countries among the 212 countries surveyed. The control of corruption was the deadliest one which had a sever deterioration of ratings. Government effectiveness and the rule of law on the other hand, had a slight increase of rating.
Governance has indeed worsened because better governance should strengthen the development of the country not worsen it. Because of poor governance, the Philippines is still experiencing poverty and has not improved a bit. This is why Arroyo deserves a grade of only 0.0 because of her many corruption cases and issues which just led to our country far worse than it ever is. She is a failure and the worst president the Philippines had.