Mere months after the historic rise of former President and Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the controversy over the 3.7 Trillion peso 2019 budget and the much criticized proposed draft federal constitution may do much to affect her political image, and its future.
The recent statements of Senator Panfilo Lacson, one of her long time critics, accused her of being behind an alleged pork barrel scheme where specific insertions of projects in the proposed budgets in line with the requests of certain lawmakers for their districts. This is similar to a practice in the US congress where specific projects are "earmarked" for certain districts after lobbying by their representatives.
Already, Malacanang has asked the Speaker to explain the supposed insertions to justify whether the same can be construed as pork barrel. This may be seen as an affirmation of legislative independence by Malacanang, or its desire for the Congress to correct the practice of giving such earmarks.
The most recent "rebuttal" of Congressman Rolando Andaya against Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez concerning the latters referencing of the ZTE controversy as an example of bad practice in handling foreign assisted projects. This shows an intent to protect Speaker Arroyo`s reputation given her alleged involvement despite being acquitted by courts investigating her and her husbands invovlement in the deal.
In all, the turn of events shows that GMA is no stranger to controversy, which tends to follow her up and down her political career. She narrowly escaped jail time the last time by remaining under house and hospital arrest.
In todays more transparent world of online and mainstream media, things may not easily be hidden, and tough memories like past scandals die harder. With that, her own past record of scandal may just resurface, prompted by speculation and sometimes, clear indications reflected in current activities.
As she winds up the last few months of her 3 term stint in Congress, her options for further political advancement are limited to a Presidential appointment to a selected position or a quick substitution to run for another elective post. If past scandals, or "whiffs" of past wrongdoing may surface to haunt her, will President Duterte appoint her?