As expected, the more interesting things in the just-concluded State Of the Nation Address (SONA) of president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came from between the lines, her body language and events surrrounding it. All of these basically say that she’s not contemplating national unity, reconciliation with her critics and political enemies, nor stepping down from power. She tantalizingly mentioned “determination”–which she herself acknowledged that other people may term “dictatorship”–as a guiding policy of her regime.
By stating that “I never expressed the desire to extend myself before my term,” she left open the possibility that she may do so in the future. By singling out each major presidentiable for snide remarks, she indirectly put herself in the ring with them. Considering that she cannot run anymore in the 2010 elections, this leaves only the possibility for charter change. She hints in the SONA that she will contend for power with them, not necessarily through elections. The not-so-subtle message of her full red gown is: GMA is ready to fight!
The SONA definitely is not a swan song, nor is it a unifying call, nor one of a legacy speech. It sounds like a campaign speech, a call to arms, or an act of throwing down a gauntlet. Is this simply a way to ward off the image of a lameduck presidency or a preparation for a real move towards a strong-woman rule? Is this the end of Vice-President Noli de Castro’s presidential option?
The SONA hints but does not say. Swift events after today will answer these. What it does say is that GMA does not want to leave the political scene.