By Franz Jonathan G. de la Fuente
Less than a week to Election Day, nine University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) student councils called for Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to leave and finish her term on June 30 in a press conference at the College of Law yesterday.
The GMA MUST GO! Alliance, led by the University Student Council, and composed of student councils from the Asian Institute of Tourism (AIT), College of Architecture (Archi), College of Business Administration (CBA), College of Arts and Letters (CAL), College of Mass Communication (CMC), College of Science (CS), College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSP), and the School of Economics (SE) expressed their disapproval at many of Arroyo’s policies since 2001.
The Alliance is also supported by the Law Student Government through Law Public Relations Officer Maria Kristina Conti, who stressed the need to specifically hold Arroyo accountable to her presidential oath as stated in the 1987 Constitution.
The press conference was presided by Conti, CMCSC chairperson Sherwin Ian Su and CSSPSC chairperson Ranulfo Javelosa III.
Culture of impunity
Su, a broadcast communication major, condemned the administration’s response to the Ampatuan Massacre last year and the cultivation of a culture of impunity toward journalists in the press.
The Philippines is now the world’s most dangerous place for journalists according to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.
AIT SC chairperson Karen Claire Chan called Arroyo’s policies “a masquerade of total failures,” while Architecture representative Alexander Dominic Mayoralgo said, “We need a steadfast leader to loosen Arroyo’s grip on power,” referring to Arroyo’s possible presidential successor and her possible return to power after 2010.
Arroyo is currently running for representative in Pampanga’s 2nd congressional district.
“After nine years of ‘service,’ she (Arroyo) shall leave Malacañang with a tarnished legacy ridden with endless controversy and political instability,” the alliance stated in a statement entitled “She shall leave” citing the various liabilities Arroyo had accumulated for over nine years.
Challenge to presidential bets
The statement mentioned Arroyo’s various scandals, her administration’s human rights record, and her decisions pertaining to the judiciary.
The alliance said “the challenge for the next set of leaders is to restore the people’s confidence in its selected leadership,” and also called for “vigilance not just from students, but from all sectors of Philippine society, to prevent a return of tyranny in her hands or in those of others.”
USC vice chairperson Amme Agudo hinted at a protest/celebration on June 30, the day Arroyo’s presidential term ends, “marking not only the departure of a tyrant, but ushering in a fresh shot at the aspirations for the country we’ve failed to realize.”
Arroyo succeeded Joseph Estrada as president in 2001 after the latter was ousted in a popularly-backed revolt dubbed “Edsa Dos.”
She was re-elected in 2004 for a single six-year term, defeating actor Fernando Poe, Jr. in an election marred by allegations of cheating done by the Arroyo campaign.