Philippines: Cabinet revamp wont solve political crisis

Jun. 14, 2007

MANILA — The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today belittled the upcoming cabinet revamp after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo asked for the courtesy resignations of her cabinet secretaries and the heads of Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs).

The group believes that the Arroyo regime is already beyond repair, even with the latest revamp coming after the May elections.

Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr. says the move is a superficial attempt at a fresh start for the Arroyo administration after failing miserably in the senatorial polls.

The problem is not just the people who surround Mrs. Arroyo in her cabinet. She can have several revamps but these will not be enough to solve the crisis of the Arroyo presidency. In the first place, she herself is part of the problem, Reyes said.

A revamp or reshuffle at this point would be superficial, a mere cosmetic change. The script being followed by the regime remains the same. Only the supporting actors will be replaced. The revamp for one will not solve the crisis of legitimacy still being faced by Arroyo, Reyes said.

Bayan expects the Arroyo cabinet to maintain its militarist streak with the position of Executive Secretary believed to be reserved for a retired general. Among those being considered are retired generals Leandro Mendoza and Hermogenes Ebdane.

The militarist and repressive mindset will still hold sway in the Arroyo government. The regime is concerned about staying in power. Expect more generals to fill in civilian positions. Expect the policy of extrajudicial killings and abductions to persist and human rights to suffer under the administration, Reyes said.

Reyes also said that the two Gonzalezs, Raul and Norberto, will probably be retained by Arroyo after their proven loyalty to the president. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez and Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales have been at the forefront of Arroyos campaign of repression against critics of the administration. One way or another, they will be rewarded.

Bayan believes that the biggest problem of Arroyo is her failure to unite and consolidate her supposed supporters after the May elections.

The political crisis is worsening because various factions loyal to Arroyo are jockeying for position in the Executive and Legislative branches. Arroyo may be trying to defuse the infighting by appeasing the various factions with new appointments, Reyes said.

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