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A quiet coup: Pro-admi elites back Arroyo’s move to marginalize Duterte – Randy David

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Former Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is in the midst of a silent coup aimed at making President Rodrigo Duterte a nominal head.

University of the Philippines professor Randy David believes that pro-administration oligarchs support the new Speaker’s moves to broaden her influence in the administration being a better economic manager than the former Davao City mayor.

In his Inquirer column, David said Cabinet members saw efforts by Arroyo and his attack dogs in Congress to demonize Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno over his alleged insertions in the national budget and corruption in flood control projects as nothing less than a grab for power.

“While Mr. Duterte himself has not said anything in defense of Diokno, the rest of the Cabinet, in particular the economic managers, have expressed their support for the embattled technocrat,” said David.

“One can only suppose that they see in all this the making of a different kind of coup — one that aims to quietly put in place a government nominally headed by the popular but unpredictable Mr. Duterte, but actually run by the unpopular but reliable Arroyo,” he added.

This is why the Cabinet have come to the defense of Diokno amid calls by Arroyo’s henchmen for Duterte to fire the Budget Secretary. David said they saw these “orchestrated moves not only a further delay in the passage of the budget, but also a long-term bid to capture all available discretionary funds.”

David reckoned that Arroyo’s power play has the backing of the country’s oligarchs wary of Duterte’s lack of knowledge on financial management.
“In the minds of the elites who support Mr. Duterte, no arrangement could be more perfect,” said David.

David said that Arroyo had planned this quiet coup since she saw in Duterte’s victory a golden chance to resurrect her political power.

“Brimming with energy, the former president convened meetings with business leaders well before Mr. Duterte’s Cabinet could feel its way in the corridors of power. From the looks of it, she was positioning herself to be a major voice in the charting of the Duterte administration’s economic direction,” said David.

While economic managers led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez have seen through Arroyo’s motives and initially delayed her return to power, David said Arroyo’s alliance with Duterte’s daughter, Davao City mayor Sara Duterte, enabled her to grab power from former Speaker Bebot Alvarez just minutes before Duterte’s State of the Nation Address in July 2018.