hen President Benigno Aquino
III, wasn’t looking (he was in Japan),
the House of Representatives quickly
passed a resolution urging the Sandiganbayan court to allow house arrest for
detained Pampanga Representative and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Since October of 2012, Arroyo, has been detained at the Veterans Memorial
Medical Center in Quezon City, on plunder charges for the misuse of nearly $9
million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.
In her nearly 10 years in as
president, Arroyo and her husband Miguel Arroyo have been accused of all manner
of nefarious deeds. After she took-over the unfinished term of impeached
President Joseph Estrada in 2001, Arroyo told the country she would not seek a
second term as president. In 2004 however, she broke that promise and ran for
president. According to her detractors, she and her husband “moved heaven and
earth” to make sure she won that election—fairly or otherwise.
Arroyo’s voice was captured on
a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) wiretap ordering elections Commissioner
Virgilio Garcillano to make sure she won by more than a million votes against
her rival Fernando Poe Jr. Caught red-handed Arroyo publicly apologized for her
“momentary lapse of judgment.” When polling results were tabulated Arroyo got
nearly a 100-percent of the vote in parts of Mindanao controlled by the powerful
According to eyewitnesses, in
order to reign-in a sometimes uncooperative congress, Arroyo had hirelings
regularly hand out paper bags filled with cash, to legislators to get them to do
Under Arroyo, you had the
fertilizer fund scam, the NAIA Terminal 3 overprice scandal, the Jose Pidal
money laundering scandal, the Northrail bidding scandal involving China, the
controversial Joseph Estrada pardon, the highly secret Joint Marine Seismic
Undertaking also involving China, the helicopter scandal of Mike Arroyo, and the
widely publicized NBN-ZTE deal—again with China involved. And these are just a
handful of the scandals that plagued Arroyo’s 9-plus years in office.
Her detractors claim she was a
terribly corrupt president and the damage she did to the country during her term
as president will take many decades to repair. Though diminutive in stature,
Arroyo was a giant when it came to corruption, her critics say.
Given all of the above, one has
difficulty understanding why some congressmen would want even more leniency
accorded to her. Arroyo’s current hospital confinement is already overly
generous, given the severity of the crimes she is accused of committing.
The late Singaporean Prime
Minister Lee Kuan Yew—more as a critique than a complement—described Filipino
culture as a “soft, forgiving culture”. He continued “Only in the Philippines
could a leader like Ferdinand Marcos, who pillaged his country for over 20
years, still be considered for a national burial. Insignificant amounts of the
loot have been recovered, yet his wife and children were allowed to return and
engage in politics.” Filipinos today need to guard against such “softness” and
make it known to Arroyo and her cronies in congress that her present hospital
arrest is the best the former president is ever going to get!