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Election Fever Grips Philippines
[Opinion] Victory by Arroyo supporters would set the stage for constitutional change
Alex Argote (alexphil)     Print Article 
Published 2007-05-14 09:54 (KST)   
On Monday, May 14, millions of registered Filipino voters troop to various poll precincts across the Philippines to cast their ballots for favored candidates for national and local government posts.

At stake for this Philippine electoral contest are key positions in the upper and lower legislative houses, the governorships of the provinces, and mayoralties, as well as council chairs in the thousands of towns and cities of the archipelago.

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As the country holds another so-called democratic process in selecting leaders, the majority of the Filipino masses are hoping that the outcome of the elections will pave the way for a better, corruption- and graft-free government that will truly serve the needs of an impoverished nation.

The Filipino nation hungers for real change and a better future for generations to come. Tired of toiling under one of the most futile and corrupt political systems in Asia, Filipinos are in desperate search for dedicated and selfless people who are not interested in lining their pockets with filthy lucre and are genuinely devoted to uplifting the Philippines from the centuries-old blight of poverty.

But as Philippine elections come, this May poll is no different from all the previous dirty and bloody electoral contests that have been the thorns that hinder the development and total reformation of the country. Held every three years, expensive Philippine elections, aside from being characteristically bloody, drain the coffers of the nation and leave most winning candidates with little choice but to dip into taxpayers' money in order to recoup their enormous expenses during the costly campaigning periods.

To cite just how eccentric and anomalous the current state of politics in the Philippines, it is now an open secret that this election is mainly the continuing battle between the camp of the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration and the opposition supporters who are sympathetic to the ousted and jailed former president, Joseph Estrada.

In 2002, Estrada was thrown out of Malacanang Palace, the seat of the most powerful executive office in the Philippines, due to massive gambling allegations brought against him by his enemies in the Senate and Congress.

Catapulted to power by Estrada's ouster, President Arroyo, the second woman to lead the Philippines after Cory Aquino, lost no time in building her power base to ensure that she would not meet the same fate as Estrada.

Winning the 2004 presidential elections under the most questionable circumstances, Arroyo was threatened with impeachment due to evidence that she cheated then popular rival Fernando Poe.

The wily president saved her position by calling on the support of thousands of town and city mayors, who came to the palace to express their unwavering support of the beleaguered Arroyo.

Nowadays, most of the presidential efforts are geared toward political preservation, and not for the general welfare of the country. Last year, Arroyo and her allies in Congress launched a failed bid to change the political system of the Philippine from the presidential into a parliamentary government.

While proponents argue that a unicameral system is best for the country, most Filipinos view it is just another machination by Arroyo in order to extend her tenure in Malacanang and ensure that her political enemies are eased out of the corridors of power.

This election, then, is a make-or-break effort by the administration camp to eventually change the form of the Philippine government. The president is hoping that majority of her allies in the Unity Party will get most of the seats in the Philippine legislative councils. Once the Senate and Congress are filled with Arroyo supporters after May 14, Filipinos can expect that the controversial charter change will be finally pushed through.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Alex Argote

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