Whether true or not the public’s vision of a sinking ship usually includes scenes of rats jumping overboard in an effort to save themselves.
In the case of Philippine President Arroyo and her sinking ship of State it appears as though she has pre-empted the “rats.” All day yesterday the country was awash in rumors some of Arroyo’s Cabinet members would be resigning in protest over allegations of election rigging.
Last night in an address over state run radio she called for the resignations of her entire cabinet and remained steadfast in her determination to stay in office. “First of all, I am not resigning my office,” Arroyo said. “At the same time, I will restructure and strengthen the Cabinet. I am asking the entire Cabinet to tender their resignations.”
She said her new Cabinet would have a free hand in governance while she focuses on fundamental changes to the constitution and the political system. How a mass resignation and re-naming of new cabinet members would alleviate the current political pressure is certainly debatable. It all smacks of a desparation move on her part. It’s also doubtful it would improve her current standing with the public. A poll released Wednesday showed only two of every 10 Filipinos still trust Arroyo and nearly half believe she should no longer be president.
Until last nights radio address most members of Arroyo’s cabinet have repeatedly expressed support for the president. No longer. Friday morning, in a hastly called press conference, several Philippine cabinet officials led by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said they have asked President Gloria Arroyo to step down and allow Vice President Noli De Castro to take over the country’s leadership. Also present were Trade and Industry Secretary Juan Santos, Budget and Management Secretary Emilia Boncodin, Education Secretary Florencio Abad, Social Welfare Development Secretary Corazon Soliman and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rene Villa.
The heads of the government’s main revenue collection agencies, Guillermo Parayno of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Alberto Lina of the Bureau of Customs, also quit. Shortly after, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla announced he has resigned.
Within the last hour (13:30 PST) former president Cory Aquino, a long time ally of Arroyo, has also called for Arroyo’s resignation and to shift power to the Vice President. In short she said it would be in the best interests of the country if Arroyo stepped aside and avoided either an impeachment trail or another reoccurence of the all too familiar “people’s power” revolt in the streets of Manila.
As yet the major newspapers, other than reporting the news, have remained clear of the controversy. I suspect within a few days and with pressure building one of them will break ranks and call for Arroyo’s resignation also.
As an aside, I say Woo-Who! This is like getting a pay raise, the peso has lost value in the last two weeks and now sits at P56.45 to one US dollar. When it hits 65 to the dollar I’ve got a nice little stash to cash in.