WHEN TV and newspapers carried images of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and some members of her family taking a Sunday morning stroll along Baywalk on Roxas Boulevard last July, those who had witnessed the dying days of the Marcos regime were reminded of a presidential family photo in 1985, showing the Marcoses relaxing on Malacañang grounds.
IN THE May 2004 elections, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo maintained a campaign organization so elaborate it even included a group dubbed “Special Ops,” an infamous abbreviation for “special operations” that many equate with “dirty tricks,” or cruder still, poll cheating.
FROM overpriced highways to secret bank accounts, to gambling lords and thoroughbred horses, controversies have hounded the Arroyo administration long before wiretapped conversations implying election fraud hogged the headlines. And it is not only the president who has more than once been asked to account for charges of improper behavior; so too have husband Mike, eldest child Mikey, and brother-in-law Ignacio Arroyo.
UNTIL last month, the heavens seemed to have favored Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The economy was picking up, the stock market was trading briskly, and Congress had just passed a new tax measure. For sure, the budget deficit and rising oil prices were something to worry about. At the same time, the opposition seemed bent on raking the jueteng muck. But all these were part of life — and politics — as usual.
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