To: Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
We are poets and other writers who fully agree with National Artist Napoleon Abueva’s recent declaration calling on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to resign from her post. Her fraudulent victory in the May 2004 election – together with her record of economic and political maladministration, subservience to foreign vested interests and suppression of the most basic human freedoms – have rendered her totally unfit to stay in Malacañang a day more.
As writers, we remember that one of Macapagal-Arroyo’s first – and gravest – offenses was against the freedom of expression, a basic right enshrined in no less than the Philippine Constitution and much treasured by literary and other cultural workers. Her banning of Live Show, a well-researched film about how extreme poverty forces many of our countrymen into the darkest depths of self-degradation in exchange for food on the table – one of the President’s oft-repeated promises – was one of the very first issues against her.
In contrast, she has not even lifted a finger against the most brazen displays of obscenity by noontime show hosts and so-called “singers” and “actors” who have lent their names to her various propaganda gimmicks.
Macapagal-Arroyo’s total absence of even the slightest respect for freedom of expression would be further shown not only by her administration’s various attempts to gag the media and the cultural sector, but also by her government’s bestowing of significant national awards to, among others, self-appointed literary mentors who have made a living out of discouraging novice writers from taking the path of social concern – thus severely limiting the possibilities of development for literature in the Philippines, a country plagued by ages-old societal ills that clamor to be written about.
Clearly, Macapagal-Arroyo views the act of luring beginning writers into taking the road of apathy to the nation’s plight – in contrast to the sterling traditions of Dr. Jose Rizal, our National Hero; and Amado V. Hernandez, himself a National Artist for Literature – and deceptively leading them along the path of treachery to the people, as a significant contribution to the development of Philippine literature and culture.
Macapagal-Arroyo asks that we sing hosannas to those who sell us the most dangerous hallucinogens amid an over-all national condition that calls for the most sober thoughts and actions.
On top of all these, Macapagal-Arroyo would even attempt to conscript writers and other cultural workers for her government’s hypocritical campaign to propagate an “anti-corruption” culture. The current occupant of Malacañang, whose name has figured in more than ten large-scale corruption scandals, is in absolutely no position to instill anti-corruption values in the minds and hearts of the people.
Her brand of anti-corruption culture is one that punishes those who blow the whistle on the big fish – like former Public Estates Authority (PEA) director Sulficio Tagud, Jr., Rear Admiral Guillermo Wong of the Philippine Navy, and Landbank teller Acsa Ramirez – while keeping the guns trained on the small fry. It is an anti-corruption culture that will only teach the people – particularly the young – that petty crime does not pay but high crime pays big time.
For these, we demand that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo step out of Malacañang, and we commit to either joining or supporting all actions aimed at her ouster as a prerequisite to building a transition council that would pave the way for reforms that would go beyond the scope of a mere regime change.
Enough is enough, Mrs. President. It is time to finish the final chapter of your book.