Presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
The Presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, also known as the Arroyo Administration, spanned nine years from January 20, 2001 to June 30, 2010. She served the remainder of her predecessor Joseph Estrada's term after he was deposed, and she was elected to a full second term in 2004 which ended pursuant to the provisions of the 1987 Constitution in 2010.
|Presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo|
|January 20, 2001 – June 30, 2010|
|Party||KAMPI and Lakas-CMD (2001–09)|
|Seat||Malacañang Palace, Manila|
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed the presidency at noon on 20 January 2001, following the EDSA II Revolution which ousted the democratically elected President Estrada. As she anticipated the revolt, she told Time International in a November 2000 interview that she planned to look to two predecessors as examples: "I will follow my father's footsteps in doing what is right, and God will take care of the rest. My father is my role model. My living role model is Cory Aquino. I am prepared."
Although her recent predecessors had lived outside Malacañan Palace, Macapagal-Arroyo opted to return to her childhood home. The new President faced numerous challenges, including an unstable economy and violent counter-protests launched by Estrada's supporters. She was also accused of providing special treatment to the jailed former President. On 27 May 2001, Islamic militants abducted 20 hostages at a resort in the province of Palawan, and Macapagal-Arroyo was thrust into the ongoing battle between the government and the rebels. Several other kidnappings by various criminal gangs followed, and Macapagal-Arroyo officially adopted a hardline "no ransom" response to the rebels and launched military operations against them. Her administration was embarrassed, however, when it was revealed that several of the hostages families paid ransom to the kidnappers directly, with some claiming that officers of the Philippine Military received a portion of the funds. Macapagal-Arroyo's administration got another black mark when her consort First Gentleman José Miguel "Mike" Arroyo was accused of receiving bribes from telecommunications company ZTE that was seeking government-approved contracts.
An economist, Macapagal-Arroyo developed a blueprint to lift the national economy out of its financial crisis. Looking back on her first year as President in 2002, she cited the country's economic survival as her greatest achievement, although she remained well aware that much work lay ahead, according to The Power and the Glory. "We have been able to survive, to have a higher growth rate than our neighbors," she said. "I dwell on what must be done. I am a very focused person. I don't focus on laurels, on feeling secure, feeling comfortable. Even on the day I was sworn in as president, I didn't say, 'Wow, I am now president,' I said, 'What should I do now?' "
Despite the obstacles and various charges of impropriety directed at those close to her, Macapagal-Arroyo was elected to a full, six-year presidential term in May 2004. She edged out her closest competitor, Filipino actor Fernando Poe Jr., by one million votes. In her inaugural address, Macapagal-Arroyo vowed to create up to 10 million jobs in the next six years, balance the budget, improve tax collection, provide inexpensive medicine for the poor, and unite the country. "Our nation must embrace a vision of economic opportunity, social cohesion and always an ever-democratic faith".
Macapagal-Arroyo again made international headlines in July 2004 when Filipino truck driver Angelo dela Cruz was kidnapped by the Islamic Army in Iraq. In defiance of requests by the United States' government, Macapagal-Arroyo honoured the rebels' demands to withdraw Filipino troops from the country. Later that month, she called for an end to political in-fighting in order to better focus on economic recovery. After former President Estrada declared the Philippines to be a "nation in distress,"  Macapagal-Arroyo said in her State of the Nation Address: "Let us set aside political bickering and politicking for at least one year." She also used the annual speech to re-iterate her pledge to relieve poverty and promote economic growth.
Administration and cabinetEdit
Head of State
Head of Government
|Vice-President||Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr.||2001–2004|
|Manuel L. De Castro, Jr.||2004–2010|
|Agrarian Reform Secretary||Hernani A. Braganza||2001–2003|
|René C. Villa||2003–2005|
|Nasser C. Pangandaman||2005–2010|
|Agriculture Secretary||Domingo F. Panganiban||January - February 2001|
|Leonardo Q. Montemayór||2001–2002|
|Luís P. Lorenzo, Jr.||2002–2004|
|Arthur C. Yap||2004–2005, 2006–2010|
|Domingo F. Panganiban||2005–2006|
|Budget and Management Secretary||Emilia T. Boncodin||2001–2005|
|Romulo L. Neri||2005–2006|
|Rolando G. Andaya, Jr.||2006–2010|
|Education Secretary||Raul S. Roco||2001–2003|
|Edilberto C. de Jesus||2003–2004|
|Florencio B. Abad||2004–2005|
|Fé A. Hidalgo (acting)||2005–2006|
|Jesli A. Lapus||2006–2010|
|Mona D. Valisno, PhD||2010|
|Energy Secretary||José Isidro Camacho||January - June 2001|
|Vincent S. Perez||2001–2004|
|Raphael P. M. Lotilla||2004–2007|
|Gen. Ángelo T. Reyes||2007–2010|
|Environment and Natural Resources Secretary||Heherson T. Alvarez||2001–2003|
|Michael T. Defensor||2004–2006|
|Gen. Angelo T. Reyes||2006–2007|
|José L. Atienza, Jr.||2007–2010|
|Finance Secretary||Alberto G. Rómulo||2001|
|José Isidro N. Camacho||2001–2003|
|Juanita D. Amatong||2003–2005|
|Margarito B. Teves||2005–2010|
|Foreign Affairs Secretary||Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (acting)||January - February 2001, 2002|
|Teofisto T. Guingona||2001–2002|
|Blas F. Ople||2002–2003|
|Delia D. Albert||2003–2004|
|Alberto G. Rómulo||2004–2010|
|Health Secretary||Manuel M. Dayrít, PhD||2001–2004|
|Francisco T. Duque III||2004–2009|
|Esperanza I. Cabral||2009–2010|
|Interior and Local Government Secretary||José D. Lina, Jr.||2001–2004|
|Gen. Angelo T. Reyes||2004–2006|
|Ronaldo V. Puno||2006–2010|
|Justice Secretary||Hernando B. Perez||2001–2003|
|Simeón A. Datumanóng||2003|
|Merceditas N. Gutierrez||2003–2004|
|Raul M. Gonzalez||2004–2009|
|Alberto C. Agra||2010|
|Labour and Employment Secretary||Patricia A. Santo Tomás|
|National Defence Secretary||Orly S. Mercado||January – February 2001|
|Gen. Angelo T. Reyes||2001–2003|
|Eduardo R. Ermita||2003–2004|
|National Economic and Development Authority||Romulo Neri||2001–2005|
|Rómulo L. Neri||2006–2008|
|Ralph G. Recto||2008–2009|
|Public Works and Highways Secretary||Simeon Datumanong||2001–2003|
|Bayani F. Fernando||2003|
|Florante M. Soriquez||2003–2005|
|Hermogenes E. Ebdane, Jr.||2005–2007, 2007–2010|
|Manuel M. Bonoan||February - June 2007|
|Science and Technology Secretary||Estrella F. Alabastro||2001–2010|
|Social Welfare and Development Secretary||Corazón J. Solimán||2001–2005|
|Tourism Secretary||Richard J. Gordon||2001–2004|
|Roberto M. Pagdanganan||2004|
|Joseph H. Durano||2004–2010|
|Transportation and Communications Secretary||Pantaleón D. Álvarez||2001–2003|
|Trade and Industry Secretary||Manuel A. Roxas II||2001–2004|
Other cabinet-level and high postsEdit
- Executive Secretary
- National Security Adviser
- Roilo Golez (2001–2004)
- Norberto Gonzalez (2004–2010)
- Press Secretary
- Silvestre Afable (April - July 2002)
- Milton Alingod (2003)
- Hernani Braganza (2003–2004)
- Ignacio Bunye (2004–2008)
- Jesus Dureza (2008-2009)
- Cerge Remonde (2009-2010)
- Crispulo Icban, Jr (2010)
- Presidential Spokesman
- Rigoberto Tiglao (2001–2002)
- Ignacio Bunye (2002–2008)
- Presidential Chief of Staff
- Rigoberto Tiglao (2002–2004)
- Michael Defensor (2006–2007)
- Joey Salceda (2007)
- Presidential Management Staff
- Rigoberto Tiglao (2004–2006)
- Arthur Yap (2006)
- Cerge Remonde (2006–2009)
- Hermogenes Esperon (2009-2010)
- Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman
Alberto Romulo, Executive Secretary (2001-2004)
Eduardo Ermita, Executive Secretary (2004-2010)
Ignacio Bunye, Press Secretary (2004-2008)
Mike Defensor, Chief of Staff (2006-2007)
Joey Salceda, Chief of Staff (2007)
Arthur Yap, Head of the Presidential Management Staff (2006)
Raul M. Gonzalez, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel (2009-2010)
Arthur Yap, Secretary of Agriculture (2004-2005; 2006-2009)
Esperanza Cabral, Secretary of Health (2009-2010)
Bayani Fernando, Secretary of Public Works and Highways (2003) and Chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (2002-2009)
Hermogenes E. Ebdane, Jr., Secretary of Public Works and Highways (2007-2009)
Mike Defensor, Chairman of Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (2001-2004)
Noli de Castro, Chairman of Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (2004-2010)
Leila de Lima, Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (2008-2010)
Gilbert Teodoro, Chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (2007-2009)
Benjamin Abalos, Chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (2001-2002) and Chairman of the Commission on Elections (2002-2007)
Resurreccion Borra, Acting Chairman of the Commission on Elections (2007-2008)
Alberto Romulo, Secretary of Finance (2001)
Margarito Teves, Secretary of Finance (2005-2010)
Richard Gordon, Secretary of Tourism (2001-2004)
Mar Roxas, Secretary of Trade and Industry (2001-2003)
Ralph Recto, Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority (2008-2009)
Rafael Buenaventura, Governor of the Central Bank (2001-2005)
Environment and energyEdit
Angelo Reyes, Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (2006-2007) and Secretary of Energy (2007-2010)
Mike Defensor, Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (2004-2006)
Foreign affairs and national securityEdit
Teofisto Guingona, Jr., Secretary of Foreign Affairs (2001-2002)
Alberto Romulo, Secretary of Foreign Affairs (2004-2010)
Raul Gonzalez, Secretary of Justice (2004-2009)
Agnes Devanadera, Secretary of Justice (2009-2010)
Orly Mercado, Secretary of National Defense (2001)
Angelo Reyes, Secretary of National Defense (2001-2003) and Secretary of Interior and Local Government Secretary (2004-2006)
Eduardo Ermita, Secretary of National Defense (2003-2004)
Hermogenes E. Ebdane, Jr., Secretary of National Defense (2007)
Gilbert Teodoro, Secretary of National Defense (2007-2009)
Hilario Davide, Jr., Ambassador to the United Nations (2007-2010)
Supreme Court appointmentsEdit
Arroyo nominated the following to the Supreme Court of the Philippines:
- Antonio T. Carpio - October 26, 2001
- Alicia Austria-Martinez - April 9, 2002
- Renato Corona - April 9, 2003
- Conchita Carpio-Morales - August 26, 2002
- Romeo Callejo, Sr. - August 26, 2002
- Adolfo Azcuna - October 17, 2002
- Dante Tiñga - July 4, 2003
- Minita Chico-Nazario - February 10, 2004
- Cancio Garcia - October 7, 2004
- Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. - March 31, 2006
- Antonio Eduardo Nachura - February 7, 2007
- Ruben Reyes - August 2, 2007
- Justice Teresita De Castro - December 3, 2007
- Justice Arturo D. Brion - March 17, 2008
- Justice Diosdado Peralta - January 14, 2009
- Justice Lucas Bersamin - April 3, 2009
- Justice Mariano del Castillo - July 29, 2009
- Justice Roberto A. Abad - August 7, 2009
- Justice Martin Villarama, Jr. - November 6, 2009
- Justice Jose P. Perez - December 26, 2009
- Justice Jose C. Mendoza - January 4, 2010 (her last SC justice appointee)
First term (2001-2004)Edit
Arroyo's ascent to the Philippine presidency in 2001 is mired in controversy as much as the ouster of her predecessor with which it is intertwined. On January 20, 2001, after days of political turmoil and popular revolt, the Supreme Court declared the presidency vacant. The military and the national police had earlier withdrawn their support for Estrada. At noon, Arroyo was sworn in as President of the Philippines by Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. Coincidentally, Arroyo assumed office the same day as US President George W. Bush.
Join me therefore as we begin to tear down the walls that divide. Let us build an edifice of peace, progress, and economic stability.— Gloria Arroyo, January 20, 2001
While the local media and its proponents hailed EDSA II as another peaceful "People Power," international views expressed through foreign media described it as a "conspiracy" to oust Estrada and install Arroyo as president. The New York Times reported that Southeast Asia-based political economist William Overholt called it "either... mob rule or mob rule as a cover for a well- planned coup." The International Herald Tribune reports that the "opportunist coalition of church, business elite and left... orchestrated the 'People Power II movement." On Arroyo's proclamation as President, Former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew opined that there is "an assumption of power here which isn't in the constitution."
Weeks later, Estrada filed a lawsuit challenging the legal basis of the Arroyo presidency and insisting he remained the lawful president, though adding he would not try to reclaim his post. The Supreme Court issued its decision on March 2, 2001, asserting that Estrada had resigned the presidency and relinquished his post. The court unanimously voted to dismiss Estrada's petition, reaffirming the legitimacy of Arroyo's presidency.
On May 1, 2001, a week after Estrada was arrested on charges of plunder, an estimated 3,000,000 protesters sympathetic to Estrada degenerated into violence and attempted to storm the presidential palace to force Arroyo from office. Four people died, including two policemen, and more than 100 were wounded in clashes between security forces and rioters. After being dispersed the crowd had looted stores and burned cars. Arroyo declared a 'state of rebellion' in Manila and ordered the arrests of opposition leaders who led the uprising and conspired to topple the government. The state of rebellion was lifted one week later, with Arroyo declaring "the disorder has subsided".
Support for the opposition and Estrada subsequently dwindled after the victory of administration allied candidates in the midterm elections that was held later that month. Arroyo outlined her vision for the country as "building a strong republic" throughout her tenure. Her agenda consists of building up a strong bureaucracy, lowering crime rates, increasing tax collection, improving economic growth, and intensifying counter-terrorism efforts.
2001 midterm electionsEdit
The 2001 legislative elections and local elections were held in the Philippines on May 14, 2001 - four months after Arroyo took office. Independent senatorial candidate Noli de Castro, a former television anchor of TV Patrol of ABS-CBN was announced as the topnotcher. This is the first synchronized national and local elections held after the ouster of Former President Joseph Estrada in January due to a military-backed civilian uprising (popularly known as EDSA II). On February 20, 2007, the Supreme Court of the Philippines ruled that Former Senator Gregorio Honasan lost in the 2001 Philippine elections and lost to Sen. Ralph Recto but declared constitutional the special election for the remaining three-year term of Teofisto Guingona.
The Oakwood mutiny occurred in the Philippines on July 27, 2003. A group of 321 armed soldiers who called themselves "Bagong Katipuneros" led by Army Capt. Gerardo Gambala and Lt. Antonio Trillanes IV of the Philippine Navy took over the Oakwood Premier Ayala Center (now Ascott Makati) serviced apartment tower in Makati City to show the Filipino people the alleged corruption of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration. They also stated that they saw signs suggesting that the President was going to declare martial law.
2004 presidential electionEdit
Although the Philippine Constitution bars a president from reelection, it allows for the election of a person who has succeeded as president and has served for not more than four years. In December 2002, Arroyo made the surprise announcement that she would not seek a new term in the 2004 Philippine general election. Ten months later, however, she reversed her position and declared her intention to seek a direct mandate from the people, saying "there is a higher cause to change society... in a way that nourishes our future".
Arroyo faced a tough election campaign in early 2004 against Estrada friend and popular actor Fernando Poe, Jr., senator and former police general Panfilo Lacson, former senator Raul Roco, and Christian evangelist Eddie Villanueva. Her campaign platform centered on a shift to a parliamentary and federal form of government, job creation, universal health insurance, anti-illegal drugs, and anti-terrorism.
Arroyo lagged behind Poe in the polls prior to the campaign season, but her popularity steadily climbed to surpass Poe's. As predicted by pre-election surveys and exit polls, she won the election by a margin of over a million votes against her closest rival, Fernando Poe, Jr.
Second term (2004-2010)Edit
Arroyo took her oath of office on June 30, 2004. In a break with tradition, she chose to first deliver her inaugural address at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila before departing to Cebu City for her oath taking: the first time a Philippine president had taken the oath of office outside of Luzon.
State of emergencyEdit
On Friday, February 24, 2006, an alleged coup d'état plot was uncovered in the Philippines, headed by Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim.
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The declaration of Proclamation No. 1017 gave Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the power to issue warrantless (and until then unconstitutional) arrests and to take over private institutions that run public utilities.
The President, through the Department of Education, suspended classes in elementary and high school levels. In response, colleges and universities suspended classes. By virtue of PP 1017, she declared a State of Emergency for the whole country in an attempt to quell rebellion as her grip on power began to slip, to stop lawless violence and promote peace and stability. The government's first move after the declaration was to disperse demonstrators, particularly the groups picketing along EDSA. Former Philippine president Corazon Aquino was among those that protested, along with leftist and extreme right activists. A number of public figures were reported to have been arrested.
After the foiling of the plot and the dispersal of the rallies, PP 1017 continued for a week on threats of military plots (such as the military stand-off of February 26 at Fort Bonifacio headed by Col. Ariel Querubin), violence, illegal rallies and public disturbance.
Six leftist representatives - Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casiño, and Joel Virador of Bayan Muna, Liza Maza of GABRIELA, and Crispin Beltran and Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis - were charged with rebellion. Crispin Beltran of Anakpawis was arrested on February 25 on charges of inciting to sedition and rebellion. To avoid further arrest, the other five found shelter at the Batasang Pambansa Complex.
On Saturday, February 25, the office of the Daily Tribune, a newspaper known as a hard-hitting critic of the Arroyo administration, was raided. After the raid, an issuance of Journalism Guideline followed, authored by the government in order to cope with the "present abnormal situation", according to then Chief of Staff Michael Defensor. The move to suppress freedom of the press against the Daily Tribune was criticized by Reporters Without Borders.
The decree was lifted on March 3, 2006. However the opposition, lawyers, and concerned citizens filed a complaint in the Supreme Court contesting the constitutionality of PP 1017. The court, on May 4, declared the proclamation constitutional, but said it was illegal to issue warrantless arrests and seize private institutions.
2007 midterm electionsEdit
Legislative and local elections were held in the Philippines on May 14, 2007. Positions contested included half the seats in the Senate, which are elected for six-year terms, and all the seats in the House of Representatives, who were elected for three-year terms. The duly elected legislators of the 2007 elections joined the elected senators of the 2004 elections to comprise the 14th Congress of the Philippines.
Most representatives won seats by being elected directly, the constituency being a geographical district of about 250,000 voters. There are 220 seats in total for all the legislative districts.
Some representatives were elected under a party-list system. Only parties representing marginalized groups were allowed to run in the party-list election. To gain one seat, a party must win 2% of the vote. No party-list party may have more than three seats. After the election, in a controversial decision, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) changed how it allocates the party-list seats. Under the new formula only one party will have the maximum three seats. It based its decision on a formula contained in a Supreme Court decision.
Local elections for governor, vice governor, provincial board seats and mayoral, vice mayoral and city/municipal council seats in Metro Manila and the provinces are up for grabs as well.
Arroyo's coalition won three senate seats and 123 seats in the house.
Manila Peninsula rebellionEdit
The Peninsula Manila Rebellion was a rebellion in the Philippines on November 29, 2007. Detained Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, General Lim and other Magdalo (mutineers) officials walked out of their trial and marched through the streets of Makati City, called for the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and seized the second floor of The Peninsula Manila Hotel along Ayala Avenue. Former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona also joined the march to the hotel.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Brigadier Gen. Danilo Lim surrendered to authorities after an armored personnel carrier rammed into the lobby of the hotel. Director Geary Barias declared that the standoff at the Manila Peninsula Hotel is over as Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim along with other junior officers agreed to leave the hotel and surrender to Barias after the 6 hour siege. There was difficulty getting out for a while due to the tear gas that was covering the area where they were hiding.
Days after the mutiny, the Makati City Regional Trial Court dismissed the rebellion charges against all the 14 civilians involved in the siege, and ordered their release.
In 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, impeachment complaints were filed against President Arroyo although none of the cases reached the required endorsement of 1/3 of the members for transmittal to and trial by the Senate.
On October 13, 2008, the 4th 97-page impeachment complaint against President Arroyo was filed at the House of Representatives of the Philippines with the required endorsements by Party list Representatives Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casiño and Liza Maza. The complaint accuses Arroyo of corruption, extrajudicial killings, torture and illegal arrests. The impeachment further raised the issues on "national broadband network agreement with China, human rights violations, the Northrail project, the Mt. Diwalwal project, fertilizer fund scam, alleged bribery of members of the House, the swine scam under the Rural Credit Guarantee Corporation, and 2004 electoral fraud." The opposition complainants were Edita Burgos, Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplico, Jose de Venecia III, Harry Roque, Armando Albarillo, a human rights victim, Roneo Clamor, Karapatan deputy secretary general, Josefina Lichauco, and representatives from civil society - Renato Constantino, Jr., Henri Kahn, Francisco Alcuaz, Rez Cortez, Virgilio Eustaquio, Jose Luis Alcuaz, Leah Navarro, Danilo Ramos, Concepcion Empeño, Elmer Labog, Armando Albarillo, Roneo Clamor, and Bebu Bulchand. The justice committee has 60 days to rule upon the complaint's sufficiency in form and substance. However, the opposition has only 28 House seats.
Under Sections 2 and 3, Article XI, Constitution of the Philippines, the House of Representatives of the Philippines has the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment against, the President, Vice President, members of the Supreme Court, members of the Constitutional Commissions (Commission on Elections, Commission on Audit), and the Ombudsman. When a third of its membership has endorsed the impeachment articles, it is then transmitted to the Senate of the Philippines which tries and decide, as impeachment tribunal, on the impeachment case.
On October 25, 2007, Arroyo granted a pardon to Joseph Estrada, supposedly based on the recommendation by the Department of Justice. Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye quoted the signed Order: "In view hereof in pursuant of the authority conferred upon me by the Constitution, I hereby grant Executive clemency to Joseph Ejercito Estrada, convicted by the Sandiganbayan of plunder and imposed a penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is hereby restored to his civil and political rights."
Bunye noted that Estrada committed in his application not to seek public office, and he would be free from his Tanay resthouse on October 26, noon. Accordingly, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales categorically stated in 2008 that an Estrada plan to run for president in the scheduled 2010 elections is unconstitutional. Estrada, however, disagrees, saying that he is eligible to run for president again, based on the legal advice he gets from former Supreme Court Chief Justice Andres Narvasa.
In the wake of the massacre of 57 people in Ampatuan town, President Arroyo placed Maguindanao under a state of martial law under Proclamation No. 1959. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita announced on the morning of December 5, 2009. In so doing, Malacañang has suspended the writ of habeas corpus in the province except "for certain areas," enabling the military to make arrests without court intervention. This constitutes the first declaration of martial law in the Philippines since 1972, when then-president Ferdinand Marcos imposed military rule over the entire country.
Congressional bid in PampangaEdit
On November 30, 2009, after much speculation, President Arroyo announced on the Philippine Broadcasting Service her congressional bid for the second district of Pampanga. On December 1, 2009, she filed her candidacy under the Lakas-Kampi-CMD.
Arroyo, a practicing economist, made the economy the focus of her presidency. Based on official (National Economic and Development Authority) figures, economic growth in terms of gross domestic product has averaged 5.0% during the Arroyo presidency from 2001 up to the first quarter of 2008. This is higher than in the administration of the previous recent presidents: 3.8% average of Aquino, 3.7% average of Ramos, and 3.7% average of the Joseph Estrada administration. The Philippine economy grew at its fastest pace in three decades in 2007, with real GDP growth exceeding 7%. Arroyo's handling of the economy has earned praise from former "friend" and classmate in Georgetown, ex-US President Bill Clinton, who cited her "tough decisions" that put the Philippine economy back in shape.
Whether the official economic figures are accurate, or how they translate to improving lives of the citizens, however, is debatable. Studies made by the United Nations (UN) and local survey research firms show worsening, instead of improving, poverty levels. A comparative 2008 UN report shows that the Philippines lags behind its Asian neighbors, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and China, in terms of poverty amelioration. The study reveals that from 2003 up to 2006, the number of poor Filipinos increased by 3.8 million, with poverty incidence being approximately three times higher in agricultural communities. With regards the problem of hunger, quarterly studies by the social polling research firm Social Weather Stations show that the number of Filipino households suffering from hunger has significantly increased during Arroyo's presidency. Her administration first set the record for hunger levels in March 2001, and beginning June 2004, broke the record again seven times. December 2008 figures saw the new record high of 23.7%, or approximately 4.3 million households, of Filipino families experiencing involuntary hunger.
A controversial expanded value added tax (e-VAT) law, considered the centerpiece of the Arroyo administration's economic reform agenda, was implemented in November 2005, aiming to complement revenue-raising efforts that could plug the country's large budget deficit. The country aims to balance the national budget by 2010. The tax measure boosted confidence in the government's fiscal capacity and helped to strengthen the Philippine peso, making it East Asia's best performing currency in 2005–06. The peso strengthened by nearly 20% in 2007, making it by far Asia's best performing currency for the year, a fact attributed to a combination of increased remittances from overseas Filipino workers and a strong domestic economy.
Annual inflation reached the 17-year high of 12.5 percent in August 2008, up from a record low of 2.8 percent registered in 2007. It eased to 8.8 percent in December 2008 as fuel and energy prices went down.
Early in her presidency, Arroyo implemented a controversial policy of holiday economics, adjusting holidays to form longer weekends with the purpose of boosting domestic tourism and allowing Filipinos more time with their families.
In 2005, Arroyo initiated a movement for an overhaul of the constitution to transform the present presidential-bicameral republic into a federal parliamentary-unicameral form of government. At her 2005 State of the Nation Address, she claimed "The system clearly needs fundamental change, and the sooner the better. It's time to start the great debate on Charter Change".
Executive Order No. 464 and calibrated preemptive responseEdit
In late September 2005, Arroyo issued an executive order stating that demonstrations without permits would be pre-emptively stopped. Then members of the military testified in Congressional hearings that they were defying a direct order not to testify about their knowledge of the election scandal. There is the issuance of Executive Order No. 464 forbidding government officials under the executive department from appearing in congressional inquiries without President Arroyo's prior consent. These measures were challenged before the Supreme Court, which apparently declared some sections as unconstitutional.
A May 2006 Amnesty International report expressed concern over the sharp rise in vigilante killings of militant activists and community workers in the Philippines. Task Force Usig, a special police unit tasked to probe reported extra-judicial killings, by state run death squads counts 115 murders and says most of these are the result of an internal purge by communist rebels. Human rights groups put the number as high as 830.
These violations were alleged to have been committed against left-leaning organizations and party-list groups including BAYAN, Bayan Muna and Anakpawis. These organizations accuse the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines for the deaths of these political opponents. Arroyo has condemned political killings "in the harshest possible terms" and urged witnesses to come forward. "The report, which Melo submitted to Arroyo last month, reportedly linked state security forces to the murder of militants and recommended that military officials, notably retired major general Jovito Palparan, be held liable under the principle of command responsibility for killings in their areas of assignment."
General Palparan who retired September 11, 2006 has been appointed by President Arroyo to be part of the Security Council. This has alarmed left-leaning political parties about the potential for human rights violations.
An independent commission was assembled in August 2006 to investigate the killings. Headed by former Supreme Court Justice Jose Melo, the group known as the Melo Commission concluded that most of the killings were instigated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, but found no proof linking the murder of activists to a "national policy" as claimed by the left-wing groups. On the other hand, the report "linked state security forces to the murder of militants and recommended that military officials, notably retired major general Jovito Palparan, be held liable under the principle of command responsibility for killings in their areas of assignment." Stricter anti-terror laws have also caused some concern in recent years.
In her July 23, 2007 State of the Nation Address, Arroyo has set out her agenda for her last three years in office, and called for legislation to deal with a spate of political killings that have brought international criticism to her presidency. She promised to bring peace to the troubled south, and also defended a controversial new anti-terrorism legislation. Arroyo told the joint session of Congress that "I would rather be right than popular." Lawmakers and lawyers, however, were dismayed by the SONA's failure to highlight and address this major hindrance to human rights. Specifically, the Alternative Law Groups (ALG) echoed the lawmakers’ position that Mrs Arroyo failed to take responsibility for the problem.
In 2007, incidences of extrajudicial killings dropped 87%, with the decline attributed to the creation of a special task force to handle the killings.
On September 5, 2007, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Amnesty Proclamation 1377 for members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army; other communist rebel groups; and their umbrella organization, the National Democratic Front. The amnesty will cover the crime of rebellion and all other crimes "in pursuit of political beliefs," but not including crimes against chastity, rape, torture, kidnapping for ransom, use and trafficking of illegal drugs and other crimes for personal ends and violations of international law or convention and protocols "even if alleged to have been committed in pursuit of political beliefs." The National Committee on Social Integration (NCSI) will issue a Certificate of Amnesty to qualified applicants. Implementing rules and regulations are being drafted and the decree will be submitted to the Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives for their concurrence. The proclamation becomes effective only after Congress has concurred.
The Arroyo administration has forged a strong relationship with the United States. Arroyo was one of the first world leaders who expressed support for the US-led coalition against global terrorism in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and remains one of its closest allies in the war on terror. Following the US-led invasion of Iraq, in July 2003 the Philippines sent a small humanitarian contingent which included medics and engineers. These troops were recalled in July 2004 in response to the kidnapping of Filipino truck driver Angelo de la Cruz. With the hostage takers demands met, the hostage was released. The force was previously due to leave Iraq the following month. The early pullout drew international condemnation, with the United States protesting against the action, saying giving in to terrorist demands should not be an option.
Arroyo's foreign policy is anchored on building strong ties with the United States, East Asian and Southeast Asian nations, and countries where overseas Filipino workers work and live. In 2007, the Philippines was host to the 12th ASEAN Summit in Cebu City.
Philippines-Japan trade dealEdit
On August 21, 2007, Arroyo's administration asked the Senate of the Philippines to ratify a $4 billion (£2 billion) trade deal with Japan (signed on 2006 with the former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi), which would create more than 300,000 jobs (by specifically increasing local exports such as shrimp to Japan). Japan also promised to hire at least 1,000 Philippine nurses. The opposition-dominated senate objected on the ground that toxic wastes would be sent to the Philippines; the government denied this due to the diplomatic notes which stated that it would not be accepting Japanese waste in exchange for economic concessions.
Council of Women World LeadersEdit
In keeping with this international mission, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an International network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.
President Arroyo granted pardon to the following:
- Former President Joseph Estrada (2007) - convicted of plunder
- Pablo Martínez (2007) - convicted for being involved in the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr.
- Claudio Teehankee, Jr. (2008) - convicted of murder
- Rogelio Moreno (2009) - convicted for being involved in the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr.
- Rubén Aquino (2009) - convicted for being involved in the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr.
- Arnulfo Artates (2009) - convicted for being involved in the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr.
- Romeo Bautista (2009) - convicted for being involved in the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr.
- Jesús Castro (2009) - convicted for being involved in the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr.
- Arnulfo De Mesa (2009) - convicted for being involved in the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr.
- Rodolfo Desolong (2009) - convicted for being involved in the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr.
- Claro Lat (2009) - convicted for being involved in the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr.
- Ernesto Mateo (2009) - convicted for being involved in the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr.
- Filomeno Miranda (2009) - convicted for being involved in the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr.
- Former Congressman Romeo Jalosjos (2009) - convicted of rape
Fertilizer Fund scamEdit
The Fertilizer Fund scam is a Philippine political controversy involving accusations that Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante diverted P728 million in fertilizer funds to the 2004 election campaign of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Hello Garci controversyEdit
In the middle of 2005, Samuel Ong, a former deputy director of the country's National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), claimed to have audio tapes of wiretapped conversations between President Arroyo and an official of the Commission on Elections. According to Ong, the contents of the tape prove that the 2004 national election was rigged by Arroyo in order to win by around one million votes. On June 27, Arroyo admitted to inappropriately speaking to a Comelec official, claiming it was a "lapse in judgement", but denied influencing the outcome of the election. Attempts to impeach Arroyo failed later that year.
Two witnesses, Antonio Rasalan and Clinton Colcol, stepped forward in August 2006, claiming involvement in an alleged plot to alter the results for the May 2004 elections. Rasalan claimed that he was fully convinced that the election returns presented at the House of Representatives were manufactured and had replaced the original documents.
On January 25, 2008, Pulse Asia survey (commissioned by Genuine Opposition (GO) per former Senator Sergio Osmeña III) stated that 58% percent of Filipinos in Mindanao believed that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cheated in the 2004 Philippine general election. 70% also "believed that because of recurring allegations of election fraud, the credibility of the balloting process in Mindanao was at a record low."
National Broadband Network scandalEdit
The Philippine National Broadband Network controversy is a political affair that centers upon allegations of corruption primarily involving Former Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chairman Benjamin Abalos, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regarding the proposed government-managed National Broadband Network (NBN) for the Philippines and the awarding of its construction to the Chinese firm Zhong Xing Telecommunication Equipment Company Limited (ZTE), a telecommunications and networking equipment provider.
The issue has captivated Filipino politics since it erupted in Philippine media around August 2007, largely through the articles of newspaper columnist Jarius Bondoc of the Philippine Star. It has also taken an interesting turn of events, including the resignation of Abalos as COMELEC chairman, the alleged bribery of congressmen and provincial governors (dubbed as "Bribery in the Palace"), the unseating of Jose de Venecia, Jr. as House Speaker, and the alleged "kidnapping" of designated National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) consultant-turned-NBN/ZTE witness Rodolfo Noel "Jun" Lozada, Jr.
Controversial dinner party and OndoyEdit
Again, a serious blow marked another controversy in the Philippines. In late July 2009, Arroyo went to New York City to dine with her friends at a lush Le Cirque restaurant and was highly criticized for her supposed outlandish dinner there with the Philippine delegation during her visit to the United States. President Arroyo and her group reportedly dined for the cost of $20,000 or P1,000,000 as reported in the New York Post (a few days before Corazon Aquino died). This has been linked to corruption and anti-Arroyo protests to sprawl anger among the poor, and more people went hungry as a result of rising hunger, and also, anti-Arroyo coup attempts.
In September 2009, Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana) devastated Metro Manila and Luzon leaving 464 people dead and resulting in massive flooding and landslides. After Benigno Aquino III took office on June 30, 2010, he criticized Arroyo and PAGASA for lack of disaster preparedness and new equipment in the aftermath of Ondoy, Chief Administrator Prisco Nilo was fired and resigned for having a fool-proof forecast as the typhoon struck the metropolis.
The Northrail project is being surrounded by a controversy since 1997, Arroyo signed a Memorandum of agreement with Sinomach and other contractors in 2004, to construct a rail line from Caloocan to Clark Special Economic Zone once to be completed in 2010. Many opposition senators and congressmen opposed that the project could cost US$500 million and this has been led to corruption in the Arroyo cabinet and even her, and also a series of cancellations. After it was constructed from 2009–2010, again, it eventually cancelled in March 2011, no plans and substitute foreign support (Japan for example) to continue the project.
End of presidencyEdit
In November 2009, Arroyo formally declared her intention to run for a seat in the House of Representatives representing the 2nd District of Pampanga, making her the second Philippine President - after Jose P. Laurel - to pursue a lower office after the expiration of their presidency. A petition seeking to disqualify Arroyo from the race was dismissed by the Comelec for lack of merit, a decision which was later affirmed by the Supreme Court. With little serious competition, she was elected to congress in May 2010 with a landslide victory. After receiving final military honors at the inauguration ceremony of incoming President Benigno Aquino III, she headed straight to Pampanga for her own oath-taking as congresswoman.
Arroyo was arrested on 18 November 2011 after a Pasay court issued a warrant of arrest against her. This followed the filing of a complaint for electoral sabotage by COMELEC. The arrest warrant was served at St. Luke's Medical Center, Taguig where Arroyo had been confined. This and others resulted to corruption charges including her husband Mike and son Mikey. She has been detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City since 9 December 2011.
- As quoted in the 1 July 2004 edition of the International Herald Tribune
- Reported on CNN.com on 23 July 2004
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