Gas prices are going up. Rice and food prices are going up. Inflation rate, as an index of rising cost of goods and services, has gone double-digit. The only food price going down is the price of galunggong fish. Fishes from the sea, of course, are still suspect to wary consumers who are horror-struck at possibly eating human flesh from victims of typhoon Frank.
Some have predicted chaotic protests and even vigilante actions because of the high prices. To be sure, it has not been our history that economic issues directly lead to regime change. However, it has the legacy of setting the stage for regime change by rendering an incumbent administration politically vulnerable to a political offensive.
The GMA administration certainly faces–if it is still possible–a heightened political crisis because of its unpopularity. If the inflation crisis–and more telling, the inept handling of the Frank national disaster–is linked in the people’s consciousness to the poor quality of governance by the GMA administration, then it will translate into a landslide win for an opposition presidential candidate in 2010.
At the moment, this is already the case. If the president continues on into 2010, she will be the only issue of the elections and, if the opposition know its stuff, it will trump anybody whom the ruling coalition puts up against their sole candidate.
The people are already getting oriented to the probability of the 2010 elections. A foolish move today will be the desperate move to set it aside in favor of a constitutional change process–which everybody suspects will be the vehicle for continuance in power of president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Doing cha-cha in the midst of a worsening economic crisis is pure political suicide. It can only succeed by subverting an entire panoply of democratic institutions–from Congress to Comelec to the Supreme Court. It can only be carried out by trampling over fierce protests from the people.
The people, as a matter of course, will not take it lying down. Thus people power is invoked–as it nearly happened in December 2006.