I do not mean the legacy President Arroyo will leave behind; I mean the legacy handed down to her, when she first assumed office in 2001. Like Corazon Aquino, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is a legatee of People Power. That she seems to have all but turned her back on it (this morning she has her sole Edsa-related event for the week, a wreath-laying rite away from Edsa itself) is a repudiation of her own personal history.
PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday lambasted those criticizing government’s austere celebration of the February 1986 people’s uprising, even as she said the country needed a different type of people power.
“Political maneuvering has become our most active industry, deluding people who parlay their presence in Edsa a long time ago into a lifetime franchise of working against governments whose leaders do not curtsy before them,” Arroyo said in her speech before the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.
It seems obvious: The President is afraid of Edsa’s shadow. She can couch her refusal to grant the 20th anniversary celebration a higher profile in Defensor-like doublespeak, but public perception is as close to actual reality as it gets. The public "knows" she fears the open crowd in Edsa. I don’t think we’re talking merely of a hooting throng, although if she does show up in any of the other Edsa rites we can be sure she will receive decidedly unpresidential treatment. We’re talking about People Power as the "only" means to ease her out of office.
[I put that in quotes, because I still maintain that the way to do it is to elect an impeachment Congress next year.]
As it is, even People Power of Edsa II proportions may not be enough to pry her grip from the lever of power; at any rate, I do not see mass actions of that scale happening anytime soon. I think even GMA knows that. So what is she afraid of? I would wager it is the mere presence of a questioning crowd; it would be the most vivid symbol of, and the clearest challenge to, the President’s own mandate.
As for Gloria’s own legacy: It may well be the quasi-dictatorial, anti-Congress EO 464; the oral arguments in the Supreme Court case against it took place yesterday — the eve of the Edsa anniversary.