[My next column in Catalyst].
Aquino versus Arroyo. The scenario, particularly after the second State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno S. Aquino III, smacks of a one-on-one, rough and tumble fight between the current president and the former president. It has all the ingredients of a Mexican, Korean, and Filipino political soap opera.
While PNoy was speaking in Congress, GMA was being admitted for a check-up and, later, for treatment at the St. Luke’s hospital. While she was there undergoing a surgical procedure, her husband, Mike Arroyo, was in Hongkong, touching off speculations that he was preparing for an eventual Arroyo exile life.
The PNoy administration, meanwhile, decided to pursue the investigation into the possible cheating in the 2004 and 2007 elections. These are crucial elections that pose questions on the participation or connection of the Arroyo couple to possible electoral frauds that led to the Arroyo presidency in 2004 and the Zubiri-Team Unity gains in the 2007 senatorial elections.
Early on, former Maguindanao Comelec provincial election supervisor Lintang Bedol came out from hiding and claimed that the results of the 2004 and 2007 elections in his province were fraudulent. The 2007 fraud was confirmed in the protest case of Atty. Koko Pimentel against then-Senator Miguel Zubiri. As a result of the Lintang Bedol confirmation, Zubiri resigned and Pimentel was proclaimed as the 12th victorious senator in the 2007 senatorial elections.
However, the more titillating speculation was the possible testimony of former Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano who may have the most to tell about the 2004 presidential elections. In the end, he refused to give a new testimony.
The minority in Congress lost no time in launching a counter-attack on the Aquino administration. It accused the latter of “persecuting” the former president based on a personal revenge or vindictive motives. It also came out with its own SONA, pointing out the various faults and deficiencies of PNoy and his administration. Unsigned white papers and ads in the printed media also came out, confirming an insidious propaganda effort to undermine the popularity of the President.
All these point to a one-on-one tussle between the two families who have aspired for the top power in the country. However, since the issues are public issues, this invites public opinion and public alignments. Precisely, we all have an interest in the outcome. As Noynoy Aquino said in his SONA—personal sa kanya ang labanan sa korupsyon. It is also personal to all Filipinos. It is our money and our sovereignty that are at stake.