The Supreme Court, in an 8-5 decision, issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the Department of Justice and the Commission on Immigration, on the subject of enforcing the Watch-List Order against the couple Miguel and Gloria Arroyo. It thus precipitated a new level of political combat in the continuing saga of the Arroyo-induced crisis.
The situation now is the last act of the drama. With the Arroyo couple raring to get out of the country before any criminal case can be brought against them, there appears almost no chance of indicting them for plunder or electoral sabotage soon. It may even be possible that the Arroyo couple will sit out the entire remainder of the Aquino term or until a favorable turn of events happen.
However, they may have lost the political battle by this act. They are different from Marcos or, more recently, Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand. The Arroyos do not have the critical political base for a drawn-out contest of power nor the capability for a quick return to power. Their allies and support within the country will be subjected to continuous pressure from the Aquino administration.
The more problematic situation for the Aquino administration is how to undertake legal and political initiatives to retrieve the ill-gotten Arroyo wealth. With the Arroyos out of reach, only the riches left in the country can be subjected to recovery. With their lawyers and friends in court, the Arroyos can be expected to put up a stiff fight.
However, the biggest gain of the Aquino government in the Arroyos’ flight is in the public opinion arena. Most will interpret the TRO as an unjust decision and will sympathize with the new administration. Arroyo SC appointees who consistently voted against the new administration have thus become fair game.
Flight will be readily interpreted as proof of guilt, both in the case of grand corruption and in the case of electoral cheating. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will have the dubious distinction of being an intruder to the presidency. First, by sly maneuverings to ensure her succession to the presidency through her own conspiracy to ease out President Estrada. Second, by devious maneuverings to force a “convincing” win over the Fernando Poe, Jr. in the 2004 presidential elections. Her husband, Mike Arroyo, stands indicted along with her, as a co-conspirator.
Now, we witness the flight of the intruders.