RP Columnist Doubts GMA Will Declare Martial Law

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (June 25) – Conrado S. de Quiros, an award-winning author and newspaper columnist, believes that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo may want to extend her power beyond 2010 by declaring a state of emergency but not martial law.

Unlike Ferdinand Marcos, De Quiros, popular columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, believes Mrs. Arroyo “does not enjoy that kind of loyalty or awe from the generals. Her hold on them is transactional, not inspirational; fragile, not cast in cement. She unleashes the full might of the military the way Marcos did during martial law, it will devour her.”

In a keynote address over the weekend (June 21) at the 10th anniversary and induction of officers and new members of the National Press Club of the Philippines in the U.S.A. led by Lourdes M. Ceballos of Easimedia as President at Chateau Ritz in suburban Niles, Illinois, De Quiros said, “my reading of things is that she will resort to force, but only to push Charter Change, only to bring about parliamentary rule. Her best bet remains civilian rule, whose rules she has been able to manipulate at will, whose rules have enabled her to rule at will.”

He explained, “she will probably need to declare a state of emergency at some point on some pretext or other to get a Constitution that extends her term. As president in transition, as prime minister, as Queen Regent – who knows? Stranger things have happened in our country. She’ll probably jail critics and oppositionists after declaring a state of emergency the way Marcos did. After she lifts it and releases the detainees, she’ll be back in power, presiding over a civilian government with martial-law properties.”

De Quiros, 58, said he has been asked so many times, “Who is going to be the next president of the Philippines?” or “Who is going to win the presidential elections next year?”

His answers, he said, “Wrong on both counts.”

He said the question that should be asked is, “Will she stay or will she go? Or to put it more succinctly, “Will Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo vacate Malacanang?”

De Quiros said, “the feverish early campaigning of the presidential hopefuls and the presidential hopeless notwithstanding, I cannot see anyone of them becoming the new tenant of the Palace by the Pasig anytime soon.”

He said if she will be out of power, it would be “fatal for her. Not even Marcos was universally disliked and reviled. … Since October 2004, GMA’s approval ratings have been uniformly negative, the only president before and after Marcos to have achieved that dubious feat.”

De Quiros explained, “the least of what can happen to her legally is being haled to the local courts for corruption. If Erap (nickname of former President Joseph Estrada) could be jailed for corruption, she can be jailed for corruption. The most that can happen to her legally is being haled to the international courts for crimes against humanity.

“If Marcos could be found guilty of the torture and “salvaging” of political prisoners by an American court, she can be found guilty of the killings of political activists by an American court.

“Philip Alston, a UN commissioner who has investigated the slaughter of political activists in the Philippines, has already indicted her for it. The same reasoning that convicted Marcos – it was state policy – can convict her of it.”

Secondly, Mrs. Arroyo “cannot trust a successor to look after her interests,” saying when “someone becomes president, all his or her promises go out of the window faster that you can say, “I will not run.

“More importantly, if you’re the kind who lies, cheats and steals, will you trust anyone, man or woman, child or beast to do otherwise?

“The day I hear her declare unequivocally, categorically and absolutely that there will be no presidential elections next year is the day I will believe there will be.”

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