After the counterpunches, knockout blows awaited

There is no widespread indignation at the arrest of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad observes that the "people power" of the magnitude that can unseat presidents is on the side of the current president. That seems to be holding and, barring major missteps on the part of the government, is not expected to wane throughout this Arroyo saga.

Senator Kiko Pangilinan wrote in his Facebook page what could have been the general sentiment at the moment. He calls GMA arrest "clearly a victory for justice and public accountability," while expressing regret that "it had to take a lower court rather than the Supreme Court to ensure that the pursuit of justice and public accountability would not be frustrated."

On the other side, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile is furious. While he does not directly refer to the arrest as the object of his anger, he is just plain furious at his perceived audacity of the executive branch in disobeying the judiciary, a co-equal branch of the government.

Enrile maintains that in his assessment Gloria is really sick and must be allowed to travel abroad for medical care. He does not believe the first couple would escape justice and, if ever they do, the government can cancel their passports and deal diplomatically with the prospective host country.

Asked what the Supreme Court would do if the Arroyos do not come back, SC spokesman Midas Marquez said "Then they forfeit the Php 2 million bond," crisply and emphatically to impart to the press that the penalty is huge enough for the Arroyos to think twice about escaping.

That the attempted travel of the Arroyos last week was a foiled escape act is as clear as daylight.

Only the very gullible and die-hard Arroyo cohorts would claim that the Arroyos, out of principle, would be coming back to the country to go through the booking procedures, not to mention the ordeal of trials and possible lifetime in jail.

The booking mugshots and fingerprints done on her are exactly the spectre the proud former president had dreaded most.

Reality sank in for the Arroyos Tuesday night when Justice Secretary Leila de Lima smoothly blocked their travel to Singapore. It was a well placed counterpunch that jolted them into realization that the president's men and women who they like to portray as weaklings are no push overs after all.

More than anybody else, Gloria knows that no one stands a chance against a president of the republic who decides to play hardball. And the Arroyo camp now see a president playing hardball. Worse for them, the people are behind him. She lost them long ago because of her overt disdain for public opinion during most of her time in power.

Suddenly, the prospect of the Arroyos spending the rest of their lives in jail become real in their minds.

Still last Friday, the country waited with bated breath if the Arroyos can pull off a final run for freedom.

In the face of the SC decision upholding the TRO on Arroyos travel ban and the uncertainties of the outcome of the case of electoral sabotage filed in the morning by the COMELEC-DOJ panel before the Pasay Regional Trial Court, the first government pronouncement that served to reassure the public came in mid-afternoon from Solicitor General Joel Cadiz.

Reminded in a press conference that the Arroyos were booked for a flight to Singapore at 5:10 P.M. and no hold departure order had been issued by the court, Cadiz said "They can book all they want, but they cannot leave." Cadiz added that the government has the legal recourses to defend its action.

The arrest of GMA capped the day's drama that in the hand of a talented scriptwriter can make it as episode in TV series 24.

The country would have been in chaos today if the government failed to block the Arroyos from going abroad. Blame game would be the order of the day. Protests and calls for the resignation of President Aquino would be widespread and what have you... Meanwhile, the Arroyos would be laughing all the way to their banks.

There will be bakclash against P-Noy and his team from the expensive Arroyo lawyers and her solid block in the Supreme Court. Secretary de Lima who critics like to accuse of always campaining to become Senator (she has never declared that intention, by the way) shall still be facing disbarment case and possible fine or imprisonment. Arroyo allies in Congress may still try to impeach P-Noy.

But the people are impressed that the men and women of the presidential team are willing to go the extra distance at the risk of losing their careers to fight for them - the real boss.

All right, we've seen a couple of counter punches. Bring on the flurry of knockout blows. There are already enough cheerers in the crowd to drown the heckles.