Gloria Macapagal Arroyo assumed the presidency of the Philippines after the church-led massive
Cropped photo of president Gloria Macapagal Ar...Image via Wikipedia
demonstrations forced the then incumbent president Joseph Estrada to vacate the presidential palace in the year 2000. Arroyo, being the vice-president then, assumed the presidency. It must be recalled that Estrada won the presidency overwhelmingly two years earlier due in part to his popularity as an actor but mostly for being forever sympathetic to the masses. Estrada won despite the unrelenting all out campaigns launched by various religious sectors and other business personalities against him citing his immoral , philandering ways(Estrada has several wives and mistresses) and belittling his ability to assume the highest position in the land. Estrada’s detractors never really stopped even after he won the elections by the biggest ever margin in Philippine election history. They succeeded in finally ousting him in 2000 throwing away the will of the silent majority who voted him into power into the trash bins of history.

I can still vividly recall the televised statement made by then Chief Supreme Court Justice Hilario Davide, when interviewed while on his way to administer the oath of office to Arroyo. In that interview, he declared that he is on his way to administer the oath of office on Arroyo as temporary president (since Estrada never really resigned his presidency). But alas, the ’temporary’ became permanent as turn-coat politicians started pledging their loyalties to Arroyo one after the other, and as various branches of the military gave their all out support to the new president. Davide even ruled later on that Arroyo’s governance is legitimate eating up his own words and providing a legal basis to Arroyo’s administration. Arroyo and her henchmen (the same bunch of infidel politicians and military advisers who turned their backs on Marcos, the same bunch who tried to grab power from Cory during her transitional term after martial law) established their foothold on the government.

Arroyo and her henchmen, wizened by experiences from the dictator Marcos’ ouster, and taking cue from former president Ramos’ expert handling of public relations to cover up government anomalies, did what Estrada failed to do! She courted, pampered, and spoiled the military, sealing their loyalty to her government forever. She also strengthened her own previously unpopular and unknown political party by adopting into her political fold the fallen political lackeys of the former dictator Marcos and other political turn coats, putting her two sons and brother in law into the mainstream political scene as congressmen, and solidifying alliances with former president Ramos’ political party.

Circumventing a legal loophole in the constitutional provision for a 6-year single presidential term limit adopted during Corazon Aquino’s presidency, she managed to run for the presidential election in 2004. She would have lost to an equally popular Estrada ally but with the help of an election commissioner (Garci) whom she herself placed into position days before the election, as well as with the help of the military, Arroyo successfully overturned the results of the elections in her favor in the last few days of the counting.
Arroyo has already served 8 years as Philippine president. Her assumption to office in 2000 was mired in controversy. Her electoral victory in 2004 was fraught with fraud! She has resolved to finish her term till 2010. Never the less, her political allies are now silently crafting a bill to amend the constitution designed to keep her and themselves in power! If she succeeds to stay in power till 2010, and especially if her political allies succeed in pushing the bill to make the charter changes, then Arroyo will be the longest serving president after Marcos!

And, much like Marcos, Arroyo’s presidency is mired by a long list of controversies, allegations of graft and corruption, political persecution of the opposition, and assassination of radio and print media practitioners critical of her government.

Among the many controversial issues and charges of Graft and Corruption which have hit the headlines throughout the Arroyo presidency include:

The Jancom Controversy ($360 million garbage incineration project despite the law banning incinerationplants in the country)

The IMPSA PROJECT ($470 million project to rehabilitate the Kalayaan, Caliraya, and Botocan hydropower plants) The approval was signed by then Justice Secretary Hernando Perez. Apparently, the DoJ approval was used by IMPSA to pressure the National Power Corporation (NPC) to make payments. IMPSA received more than $50 million although it had invested only $9 million, and in addition tens of millions of dollars more in fees not provided for in the contract.

The President Diosdado Macapagal Avenue (For this project, the PEA secured a P1 billion loan from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). PEA director Sulficio Tagud, Jr., however, later disclosed that the project had been overpriced by P533 million. A document in the possession of the government employees' group Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) reveals that the loan was approved by Avelino Cruz, then presidential legal counsel.)

Mismanaged Funds By PAGCOR - Pagcor, which had a negative cash flow of P170 million in 2002, reported a negative cash flow of P850 million from January to April 2003.
The net profit of Pagcor, which goes to the President's Social Fund, reached P1.1 billion last 2002. Surprisingly from January to April, 2003 its profit came to only P170 million. At its present rate, the 2003 PSF would amount to only P510 million or less than half of the 2002 total.

A Pagcor manager, interviewed by a national daily in September, gave among other things three sources of Pagcor's financial difficulties: "onerous" contracts, "profligate spending," and "massive, mindless" donations.
Mismanaged FundsBy GSIS - GSIS president’s Garcia's cash advances amounting to P3.4 million (U.S.$ 61,818.18), the establishment of district offices worth Php4 million (U.S.$ 72,727.27) each, and the appointment of outside legal counsel for the cost of Php200,000 (U.S.$ 3,636.36) a month were among the cases cited here.
Aside from these, Garcia has also been denounced allegedly for using GSIS money to purchase the painting Parisian Life by Juan Luna. The painting is currently on a national tour sponsored by the GSIS.
Garcia is also said to earn P540,000 a month. Aside from hiring outside legal counsel at P200,000 a month, he is also said to have appointed some 130 vice-presidents who earn P70,000 a month.
The GSIS president-general manager is also accused of contributing at least P100 million to the campaign funds of Macapagal-Arroyo. Late October, the President said she would retain Garcia in his GSIS posts despite appeals for his removal by GSIS rank-and-file employees all over the country.

Mismanaged Funds By The Judiciary - The judiciary, on the other hand, has always been exposed as a bulwark of corruption. The allegations assumed a face last July 8, when the Commission on Audit (CoA) revealed that some P300 million of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) for 2001 remained unaccounted for.
Court employees, including judges, have questioned the decrease in their cost-of-living allowances, and courts are known to be suffering from an acute lack of facilities. The SC led by Chief Justice Hilario Davide, on the other hand, is reported to have been spending for the construction of summer rest houses for its justices in Baguio City and for the purchase of luxury cars.

Peace bonds - Described as Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Certificates issued by the government, the Peace bonds were conceptualized by the Caucus of Development NGOs (Code-NGO) supposedly to raise funds for the anti-poverty activities of its member organizations.
Code-NGO gained access to the corridors of power, through its links with Macapagal-Arroyo, after the People Power 2 uprising. Two of its leaders were appointed to the Cabinet: Corazon Soliman was appointed secretary of social welfare and development, while Teresita Quintos-Deles was appointed to head the National Anti-Poverty Commission.
Code-NGO is alleged to have used its political connections to make a profit of Php1.4 billion in a series of transactions in Peace bonds worth Php35 billion pesos.

Jose Pidal - By far the most explosive corruption case to erupt under the present administration is the Jose
Pidal issue. Jose Pidal is allegedly no other than President’s Arroyo’s husband.
As alleged, there are Php36 million in the Jose Pidal accounts, Php48.4 million in the account of the Macapagal-Arroyos' Lualhati Foundation, Php19.3 million in the account of Victoria "Vicky" Toh (the first gentleman's secretary and allegedly also his mistress), Php7.5 million in the account of Thomas Toh (brother of Vicky), and Php21.1 million in the account of Kelvin Tan (Vicky Toh's brother-in-law).
Although Macapagal-Arroyo had received Php321 million for her candidacy in 1998, she reported only Php50.2 million to the Commission on Elections.
In his affidavit, Eugenio Mahusay - Lacson's would-be "star witness" in the Jose Pidal expose - named, among the donors to the Jose Pidal accounts, Pagcor chair Efraim Genuino; Transportation and Communication Secretary Pantaleon Alvarez; lawyer Ching Vargas of the finance division, Office of the President; and Kishore Hemlani, a rice trader in charge of the rice importation of the National Food Authority. Mahusay also said that the biggest amounts deposited into these accounts came from Genuino.

Military corruption - The subject of military corruption has always been talked about in the Philippines, but an armed protest action by some 300 young officers and enlisted men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) brought it out in the open last July 27.
In the Oakwood mutiny, the rebel soldiers alleged that then Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes was involved in the sale of arms and ammunition to guerrilla and bandit groups. This was a charge corroborated by two officers of the Philippine Marines, Captains Danilo Luna and Ury Pesigan, in a separate venue.
Reyes was forced to resign from his position a few weeks later following a wave of public outrage. The Macapagal-Arroyo government, however, has resurrected him in another capacity - as anti-kidnapping czar.
Wong's expose created restiveness within the Marines. Reyes offered Wong the assignment of chief of the Northern Command. Realizing he was being demoted, Wong resigned from his post. Asked to comment on the matter, Macapagal-Arroyo said Reyes had done "the right thing."

A former Philippine Army Comptroller and his whole family is being investigated for smuggling millions of dollars to the U.S. A Philippine police officer attending a seminar in Russia together with other police officials, was also caught carrying a large amount of cash.

The $330 Million ZTE Broadband deal bribery scandal to grant the project to ZTE.
The Php728Million Fertilizer Fund Scandal perpetrated by Jocjoc Bolante prior to the 2004 presidential elections, the then Undersecretary for Agriculture and close friend of the first gentleman.

The October 11 Cash Dole Outs Ranging from Php200,000 to Php500,000 – Totaling between Php100 million to Php 200 million, cash was handed out in brown bags to 190 pro-administration congressmen and 50 governors to pre-empt another impeachment charge against the president.

The Legacy Case and The Blatant Bribery Scandal Involving A SEC Commissioner

The World Bank Report of Corruption in World Bank Funded Government Projects which mentions the participation of the first gentleman in the awarding of projects to ‘favored’ contractors in exchange for a bribe.

There is a seemingly endless list of corruption and scandals running throughout the more than 8 years of Arroyo administration so much so that the Millennium Challenge Corporation , the entity running the Millennium Challenge Program, a grants program by the U.S. government that provides funding to the poorest countries of the world, declared in their December 11 meeting that it will not be signing any compact proposal until such a time as the corruption level in the country has gone down to an acceptable level.
This, I doubt whether it will happen in Arroyo’s term. This administration has brought us back to the Martial Law era of widespread corruption. Arroyo and her henchmen have totally succeeded in reversing the democratic gains culled from the struggles of Benigno Aquino Jr. and the countless militants who died fighting for freedom at Mendiola and other picket lines. She has totally thrown into the waste bin of history the political gains born from the non-violent EDSA revolution that ousted a dictator. She has turned herself into a power-hungry political tyrant even her own late father (former Philippine President Diosdado Macapagal) will condemn if he were alive today.

This administration has gone to great lengths in violating our rights, undermining our institutions and promoting a climate of impunity just to stay in power. The Arroyo administration will go tobrazen lengths to silence the whistleblowers who try to expose corruption.