Corazon Aquino and Gloria Arroyo – The Jekyll and Hide of Philippine Politics

I am not privy to the internal happenings in Philippine politics. I am, afterall, living about two flight hours away from the National Capital region and an ordinary citizen. My perception of our government officials is based solely on how they were projected in the news media. I guess, if one politician had the bigger cash vault and the better projectionists, then he may also have the more favorable image to the common people. But then again, we have Auntie Cory and Big Sister Glo, the only two lady presidents of the country, so far.Corazon Cojuangco Aquino became the first woman president of the Philippines, and in Asia, in 1986 courtesy of the famous four-day EDSA Revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship which reigned for twenty years. With yellow as her official color and the L hand sign as her symbol, she governed the country for  a single term that was threatened by seven coup d’ etat; damaged by Typhoon Uring that devastated the City of Ormoc and left thousands dead; by the sinking of MV Dona Paz which registered the country’s worst maritime disaster; by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 that made billions of losses to the Philippine economy; and several other occurrences that made the Aquino government unpopular. Mrs. Aquino’s term ended in 1992 and, despite clamors from some quarters, she refused to bid for the same post twice.Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became the second female president of the land in 2001, again courtesy of another EDSA Revolution that displaced former movie actor Joseph Estrada from the presidency. Mrs. Arroyo is still encumbent and in her ninth year as Chief Executive of the Philippines. Those nine years were marked by various scandals that mostly indicated the involvement of the President and some members of her family. The most notorious were the Hello Garci episode where Mrs. Arroyo was charged as having cheated during the 2004 election; and the ZTE Broadband deal scandal that had the First Gentleman accused of corruption. There still were man-made and natural disasters. Like the Aquino government, the Arroyo regime became unpopular to the Filipino common people.But Ex-President Corazon Aquino did not become unpopular as a person. She was still a symbol of unity and freedom, up to her death on August 1, 2009. When her presidential term ended in 1992, she continued to remain a political presence because she was always sought either as mediator of conflicts or reliable endorser of political candidates. She had managed to cloth herself with a certain power that the people respects. She became the epitome of moral politics. She was still the people’s symbol of hope and freedom. I may not be an insider. I may have based my comments on the media projection. But I can surmise that she was all of that because of the magnitude of people that came to her wake. It can’t be the work of Mrs. Aquino’s paid publicist, if she had one. The outpouring of love and support seemed genuine. People brought flowers, lit candles, left notes, threw confetti and shed tears for the Yellow Lady. They sympathized with her bereaved family.Thousands of them did. The funeral measured Corazon Cojuangco Aquino’s worth. They adjudged her as “Good.”Current President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is not yet dead. She can’t be measured yet by the same barometer. I doubt if she will benefit from the same deluge of support. But, one thing is sure: many people consider her as an arrogant president. Someone whose greed for power is insatiable. Before the 2004 elections, she made a vow to the people that she will not vie for the presidency again. But, she did and is currently serving a full six-year term. This term is supposed to end in 2010, but her maneuverers are working hard to extend it by way of changing the Philippine Constitution, which the common people are opposing to. Alive and encumbent, but Mrs. Arroyo is  being judged as “Bad.” Will her funeral draw the same emotions, the same crowd? I doubt it.

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