4 December 2009 – After months of playing coy, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has finally come clean with her plan to run for a seat in the House of Representatives in next year’s elections. Two days after the Maguindanao massacre took place, as the body count was still rising and the public was still reeling in shock and outrage over the unprecedented scale of violence, President Arroyo did not head south to condole with the families of the victims but made her way north for her 50th visit this year to her home province of Pampanga to inspect a dredging project.
She declared she is “not ready to step down completely from public service.” We believe it is not public service that President Arroyo is unwilling to give up but public office and the accompanying trappings of power.
Her decision to run for a House seat bolsters our long-held suspicion that the President is determined to pursue her charter change agenda with the ultimate objective of having herself installed as the prime minister of a newly formed Philippine parliament. And once she reascends to the pinnacle of political power, she will drag us back down the path of cheating, corruption, manipulation, deception, and cynicism.
But we have a choice not to be led back down that road to perdition. She cannot pursue her agenda without cohorts in Congress. In the coming elections, we have the opportunity to reject the old regime and deny the consolidation of anti-reform and anti-democratic forces in Congress. Thus, we call on all Filipinos to vote for transformative leaders who will bring back integrity, accountability, and vision back to governance, and make sure our votes are counted correctly. Finally, we must brace ourselves for a difficult and protracted struggle, for those who wish to toy with our democratic institutions and processes have shown an unlimited capacity to bend the limits of the law for their self-serving political ends.