The past week of the anti-GMA protest movement is a revelation on the dilemma facing the political elite in the country, including the so-called “kingmaker institutions” such as the military, the Catholic church, and big business. The protest movement has shown the extreme isolation of the Arroyo presidency from both the middle class and the people at the grassroots. It is already impossible for her to govern normally and it is only a matter of time before the protest movement catches up with her in a people power scenario.
Yet the political elite is hard-pressed to seek a replacement for her or to initiate a transition process acceptable to the people. The scale and quality of Friday’s rally was enough to start a whole series of logical moves by the political elite to resolve the crisis. The ball is now in its court. Where’s the rub?
One issue is the status and potential for presidency by the constitutional heir-apparent vice-president Noli de Castro. He also has a problem of credibility with the broad opposition and with the middle class as part of the Arroyo administration. His own presidential ambition also caused wariness among other 2010 presidentiables.
Another issue is the self-interest of figures in various political institutions controlled by the elite. This is generally related to the huge amount of political, monetary, and special favors that has been and continue to be doled out by Malacañang in order to create their own base in the political elite. Many of these beneficiaries are loath to let go and are holding out for a turn in the situation so that they can continue the happy days of patronage largesse.
The last issue among the various groups in the political elite is the question of the post-GMA benefits: who will reap and who will be left out. This is basically a question of counting chickens before the eggs have hatched. Jockeying has led to their neutralizing each other’s initiative.
The main beneficiary of the paralysis of the political elite, of course, is the GMA administration. It is being given a longer lease on life. However, its inability to govern normally and its politics of survival will literally led to more political strife in the coming days. The irony of the position of the political elite is that–as they continue to be ineffective in the current crisis–they will increasingly be seen as part of the problem, rather than as part of the solution.