No Way Out 3
Less than a month ago the Belmont Club posted No Way Out which predicted that the Philippines was in a crisis which its institutions could not survive.
the protests threatening to upend Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo after a leaked wiretap showed how she plotted electoral fraud against her defeated presidential rival, the now-deceased Fernando Poe Jr. But whereas in the old days nearly everyone would have welcomed the fall of a crook and fraudster, the prospect of the Nth "People's Power" revolution has filled many Filipinos with dismay. Not out of love for Gloria Macapagal but out of fear for what may follow. The essential problem facing the Philippines is that all its public institutions have been thoroughly corrupted. And as when all the bottles in the bar contain poison, there is little point in swapping one drink for another. ...
The dysfunctional nature of Philippine politics, taken to its ultimate conclusion means that if some kind of People's Power revolt doesn't take place, a coup attempt will or a rigged election will happen if all else fails. That's what a collapsing polity means.
Although some commentators considered this estimate of the Philippine situation "too pessimistic", this is implosion is exactly what has happened. The New York Times reports that ten Philippine cabinet secretaries have resigned and asked Gloria Macapagal to do the same on the grounds that it is better for her to depart the office legally than to face being turned out by extralegal means.
The political crisis facing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took a major turn on Friday when influential allies, including 10 of her departing cabinet officials and the former president, Corazón Aquino, called on her to step down. ... The 10 cabinet officials announced their resignations on Friday but said they had decided to leave their posts as early as Tuesday, having concluded that Mrs. Arroyo could no longer govern effectively under the cloud of scandal. When Mrs. Arroyo learned about the planned mass resignations, she pre-empted them by announcing Thursday night that she had ordered her whole cabinet to resign. There has been concern here in the past month that the crisis could spin out of control, providing an opportunity for rightist elements to attempt a coup d'état.
The rub is that Arroyo's constitutional successor is an ex-TV anchorman called Noli de Castro, now vice-President, who rose to stardom on the back of his signature opening line. "Good evening" (long pause) "everybody". Apart from the fact that de Castro is singularly unqualified to do anything outside of show business, the balkanized Philippine political system cannot even agree on whether the vice-president is in the line of succession. According to the Philippine ABS-CBN news agency:
Although the opposition seems united in calling for the ouster of President Arroyo, its leaders appeared to have divergent views on how to replace President Arroyo and on who would take her place. Former senators Francisco Tatad and Loren Legarda and Ilocos Norte Rep. Imee Marcos appeared before mediamen during the weekly Kapihan sa Sulo Hotel news forum Saturday to air their views as calls for the President to step down snowballed on Friday. Tatad said he is now amenable to the succession of Vice President Noli de Castro as president, but with certain conditions. ...
Legarda, a candidate for vice president in last year's election, said de Castro cannot assume office because "he has no legitimacy for presidency." ... "De Castro cannot assume the post of president in case of vacancy in the position because he was not duly elected in the 2004 elections," Legarda said.
Marcos, whose father Ferdinand was toppled in a popular uprising in 1986, presented a different approach. She said the Constitution allows "people power" in ousting a president and Fernando Poe Jr.'s widow, Susan Roces, should lead the nation if Arroyo was deposed. ...
Opposition Sen. Jinggoy Estrada earlier said the presidency should be returned to his father, former president Joseph Estrada, who was ousted in 2001 in a military-backed popular revolt. Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel proposed replacing Arroyo by way of a snap election.
I predicted in the comments section of No Way Out 2 that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's presidency was finished but that her departure would solve nothing because the underlying problem was the wholesale collapse of Philippine institutions.
I think Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is doomed. Her presidency is held up by nothing but the fear of worse and she is doing her damndest to show that nothing could be worse than she already is. Tick. Tick. Tick. But declaring Gloria doomed is not the same thing as welcoming her replacement. Philippine society being what it is, the forces best able to out-bug, out-intimidate and out-bribe her are the wise guys. And they'll get in, because that's how the politics of desperation works.
(Speculation alert) Here's what I estimate will happen in the Philippines. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be driven from office one way or the other. She will be replaced by vice-buffoon Noli de Castro, or some other nonentity, who will last another six months, if that. Following that, the Philippines could enter a period of complete instability, under which paradoxically enough, things will proceed more or less normally since the government hardly functions as it is. The Philippine government may then descend into the modern counterpart of Rome's Year of Four Emperors, where multiple and successive "Presidents" finish out the remainder of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's original term. Then the real danger will begin. It is hard to predict the exact form of the peril but it may take either the shape of a coup de etat attempt against a discredited State or one of the "Presidents" may set up a rival capital in a regional center like Cebu in the Visayas or Davao City in Mindanao. If that point is reached there will probably be clamor for international intervention under the auspices of a regional body like ASEAN under which a caretaker government will be appointed until UN supervised (yeah I know) elections are held to re-establish legitimacy. It would be a catastrophe of the first order.
This is one time I hope I'm wrong.