Scuttlebutt this weekend is proving rather disturbing. Both media and political sources claim that Secretary Mike Defensor’s press conference (Alecks Pabico -sorry for misspelling his name over and over!- clarified my recent entry in this comment; more on the PCI blog on what was really said and not said, here and here) was meant to lay the basis for throwing out the impeachment complaint next week.
There are really two flavors to the scuttlebutt. The main one mentioned by media colleagues with varying levels of certainty, and some, in turn, quote politicians in the opposition, is that Defensor’s rather clumsy press conference was meant to provide an excuse for the Committee on Justice to throw out at the very least, the amended impeachment complaint. The administration and its allies would then simply hunker down for a couple of weeks of hell from the media and the opposition, but that the public would then calm down and simply go on with life, leaving the President safe. The additional flavor is that the idea is, throwing out the most dangerous complaint will trigger cases being filed with the Supreme Court, which would then bog down any impeachment complaint for some time to come, as the various merits and demerits of the petitions are decided.
The most extreme interpretation I heard ties in Senator Edgardo Angara (whom I spotted Wednesday at the Japanese restaurant of the Shangri-La Makati hotel, having dinner with Tomas Alcantara, ally of the President), and even Senator Panfilo Lacson (who eagerly challenged Sec. Defensor today to submit their tapes to the same expert in the United States), to a softening in the opposition stance against the President. While Angara may simply be keeping friendly lines of communications open with the Palace, it seems far fetched to think that both he and Lacson would be contemplating collaborating with the President. The idea that the goings-on in the House are simply a mock battle is depressing.
So, the serious scuttlebutt is about the potential junking of the amended Lozano complaint (unless all complaints are thrown out, which seems a bit extreme, but who knows?). The camp of the President can count on several things in their favor: the continued lack of a credible opposition; the increasing indifference of the middle class and the broader public; the inability of the “middle forces” to keep the momentum going, while the parade of witnesses by the opposition is simply not working; the declaration of support from provincial officials which seems independent of whatever support former president Ramos has provided the Palace (which shows increasing signs of wanting to wean themselves from over-identification with him). All these indicate they just might get away with throwing out the most harmful impeachment complaint or simply shutting down the whole circus.
Media-related scuttlebutt is more fuzzy: the powers-that-be are not pleased with either Newsbreak or the PCIJ. There is even talk of at least one ad agency allegedly getting phone calls saying placing ads in Newsbreak will not be appreciated. Then there are allegations that critical articles against PCIJ may be the doing of a former colleague not pleased with their current focus on the President.