The Makati rally yesterday (June 10) drew in an estimated 10,000 to 13,000 people to protest what former President Cory Aquino described as “a shameless abuse of power” by the Arroyo administration. Organizers warned that the protest would surely escalate in the coming weeks, especially if congressmen force to convene the constituent assembly (con-ass) for Charter change (Cha-cha)
Expectedly, the beleaguered Arroyo administration is now using all sorts of arguments why people should not join the protests against Cha-cha. One major argument is the economy, which it has always used to discourage public demonstration of outrage against the regime’s barefaced abuse of power.
When massive protests broke out set off by the Hello Garci electoral fraud and later by the NBN-ZTE corruption scandal, the tune was that protests would only offset the gains made by the economy.
The country could not afford a political crisis, much less another EDSA. “Ramdam na ang kaunlaran at sayang naman ang umuunlad na ekonomya” was the recurring theme of Malacañang’s defense against calls for the ouster of Mrs. Arroyo. The propaganda line was that the economy has achieved a certain level of stability under Mrs. Arroyo’s leadership. Removing her from office, or instigating moves to get rid of her, would put such economic stability at risk.
But as I have pointed out in a previous article, the deceit of economic growth and industrialization that Malacañang peddles has been further exposed by the latest official figures on the state of economy. According to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), the country is “teetering into recession”. The massive displacements of Filipino workers here and abroad due to the global crunch could not be concealed as well by false claims of economic stability.
Thus, amid threats of intensified anti-Arroyo protests caused by the renewed push for Cha-cha, the administration’s economic managers have adjusted their tune. From stability and “First World status”, what is supposedly at risk now is the “resiliency” of the economy amid the raging global recession.
On the eve of the Makati rally against Cha-cha, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) issued this warning: the disruptive impact of political events could affect the county’s economic policies and therefore the performance of the economy. Markets have become “edgy” over the past few days because of the looming showdown between the Arroyo administration and its critics and opponents, BSP Governor Armando Tetangco cautioned. Investors in the stock market are cashing in on gains to secure their money, causing the stock market index to drop by 29.47 points.
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Ralph Recto, meanwhile, appealed to the public last week not to further aggravate the weak economy. With the gross domestic product (GDP) growing by only 0.4% in the first quarter, Recto warned that there is an “economic cost to political instability and political uncertainty”.
Malacañang’s chief economist added that “In this challenging time of the global economic crisis, let us not add more shocks to our resilience. Let us remain focused in our efforts to navigate the economy through this time of global hardship.”
Running out of materials to spin and promote the country’s supposed economic growth, government is now using the precarious situation of the domestic economy to help prevent from further intensifying the public outrage triggered by the railroading last week of House Resolution (HR) 1109 to convene Congress, with members of the Senate and House of Representatives voting as one, into a con-ass
But instead of dampening the people’s outrage, such statements would only further stoke public indignation. The worsening economic uncertainties the country faces are not the people’s fault, in the same manner that HR 1109 that will push for Cha-cha and perpetuate Arroyo to power is not the people’s wishes. What is definite is that the blatant push for Cha-cha to serve Arroyo’s narrow political interests at a time when the hyped economic growth is unraveling spells huge political consequences for the despised Arroyo administration.
Indeed, it’s not the legitimate protests that will aggravate the country’s economic woes. Job scarcity, forced labor migration, poverty, destruction of local industries, and vulnerabilities to the global recession are all deteriorating due to wrong economic policies of the Arroyo administration.
It’s the worsening economic condition of the Filipino people that will feed the worsening political crisis. It is the raging economic crisis, amid the shameless abuse of authority by the Arroyo administration, that would compel the people to thwart the scheme of this regime to prolong its stay in power through Cha-cha.