There is supposed to be more demonstrations in Manila today. Yesterday we didn’t see any demonstrations (we did see a couple dozen soldiers in Bulacan, in the town near the Northern expressway entrance…planning security?)

The usual suspects, i.e. the Catholic bishops and the left, are planning a big demonstration today, but it’s too early to see how many will go.

The Manila Times calls it “EDSA fatigue” (most of the demonstrations that overthrew past governments occured on the EDSA, a major street in Manila). So even though one poll says that 77% of Philippinos want the president to resign, few actually think she will, or that she will be forced out.

There may be two reasons for this.

One, the economy is strong, so the business sector won’t back any unrest that might discourage a loss of investment money.

Two: the grassroots figure anyone who replaces the President will be just as corrupt, and probably not as competent.

And of course there is a third reason: There is no link (so far) that points to the President being aware of the huge bribes and kickbacks involved in the latest scandal concerning a failed Broadband contract. One of her husband’s cronies was involved, but does that make her guilty?

Of course, if the presence of a Presidential security guard trying to arrest one witness when he arrived at the airport is confirmed, the links might be proven. But then, the witness was not killed, so she could argue the guard was there to protect his life.

So the prognosis for the Philippines is: demonstrations as usual, but no grassroots support that is needed to oust the President.

The sad part in all of this is that those who suffer from the corruption are the poor and middle class. For example, today’s ABSCBN report is that a lot of money that was supposed to be used to build houses for the military, teachers, and for those displaced by earlier Northrail and Southrail projects was diverted to pay for the Broadband contract’s inflated cost.

One little bit of information that came out in this was that the “usual” kickback to government officials is 20percent of the bid…and if Lozado is believed, the reason that the contract fell through was that one sponsor demanded 40percent, a scandal even by Filipino standards.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her web site is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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