Convened and reconvened is my column for today.
The FBI has refused to examine the “Garci” tapes (did the opposition know the FBI doesn’t look at previously-examined material?). The majority in the House rejoiced over Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay finally learning how to read (a skill learned not a moment too soon for someone who represents teachers). The minority of course, is officially unhappy but perhaps relieved to be rid of an ally of such obvious low-wattage. The PCIJ, not usually known for the humor of its articles, couldn”t help but cover the goings-on in the House, and conclude with this observation:
In his press conference, Magsaysay read from a statement that was prepared for him by his chief-of-staff, who told the congressman to just read its pertinent portions. Appearing clueless, or probably lacking sleep, Magsaysay even had to ask his staff which were the pertinent parts in the statement that he should read.
The goings-on continue to provoke comment from among the punditocracy and the blogosphere. Newsstand makes some observations, including the senile behavior of Rep. Datumanong; the observation made by Earl Parreno on TV that the addition of five signatures to the impeachment complaint seems curiously timed; and that Alan Peter Cayetano, the most obviously God-fearing (or at least, God name-dropping) representative of all, seems to have made a self-fulfilling prophecy. Edwin Lacierda observes that the opposition should rely less on making speeches on TV, and more on networking (something earlier observed by Newsstand, quoting Sen. Joker Arroyo). Paeng is simply beginning to tune out. Punzi is alarmed by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita saying on radio that they are prepared to impose martial law, if people get upset over the killing of the impeachment complaints. (Speaking of martial law, the Marcoses say they’re prepared to roll out the red carpet for the President on September 11 -but it seems she has other plans, see next paragraph).
The President is poised to make a hegira to Saudi Arabia (on September 11, bad, bad mojo!) on her way to New York; in the meantime, she’s finally sent the budget to Congress: supposedly no money for charter change, but a third of the budget is devoted to debt payments. Jove focuses on the budget, notes that Budget Secretary Romulo Neri seems preternaturally chirpy, and ends with two words: Emilia Boncodin.
In other news, how will Juan Ponce Enrile’s shifting to the senate majority help or hinder the President? Who knows. But Enrile does seem set, along with Miriam Defensor Santiago, on attacking Armando Doronila, who has accepted an appointment as ambassador to Belgium and the E.U. Some senators object to Doronila’s age (he’s 77). I wonder if they know how old Enrile is.
The point is that at this critical stage of the impeachment proceedings, where it seems evident that the majorityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s marching orders are to kill the complaints as early as possible, even before the investigation phase in the House Committee on Justice is reached, the majority congressmen think they have enormous new leverage which they can assert and, more importantly the President cannot refuse.
A clear indication of this was what I consider a particularly low point in yesterdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Justice Committee session when one administration congressman brought up the controversy on the release of infrastructure funds, allegedly only to some but not to all House members.
…But the real point of his outburst emerged when he said that if he did not get his rightful share, he would vote for impeachment.
Alex Magno, on the other hand, has a scathingly low opinion of Mike Velarde and his reconciliation efforts:
He overstepped his role. He overplayed his card. In so doing, he undermined his own role in a discreet game of political flirtation.
A go-between brokering a potential affair between two lovers is not expected to give both parties lessons on the Kama Sutra.
Fel Maragay also looks into reconcilation moves, viewing it as a curious obsession of the President’s; Connie Veneracion is puzzled by the President’s insistence on reconciliation, since to her mind, the impeachment complaint is fatally flawed: perhaps the President is inclined to political suicide? Tony Abaya suggestes the President think out of “the trapo box” and go for gold:
She should call for 90-day continuous trials for high-profile corruption cases languishing in the Sandiganbayan. This means continuous trial for Joseph Estrada who has been detained since 2001, continuous trials for members of the Marcos family whose more than 100 cases have been pending in the courts since 1987, and continuous trials for Gen. Carlos F. Garcia, Gen. Jacinto Ligot and Col. George Rabusa, who have been charged with plunder by lawyer Frank Chavez in 2005….
But if she is indeed prepared to step down in 2006, as revealed by Defensor and suggested earlier by Fidel Ramos, that fear should not now cripple her. She should be fighting to leave an honorable legacy, and continuous trials for high-profile corruption cases would be one of the most dramatic ways to do it.
In this way, she could even hope to win back the leaderless middle class (who are running around like headless chickens with white ribbons attached to their claws), the business and professional communities, the militant Churches and the idealist factions of the military (who are now plotting her overthrow).
This is an endgame that she can win. This is the survival of the fittest, the fittest being those who adopt to new situations and use their skills and brains to overcome their predators, not those who offer the effete hand of reconciliation while they are being eaten alive.
Abaya presumes, of course, that an endgame is either desirable or being considered.
And in the blogosphere, Gari continues his observations of rally life at the House; La Vida Lawyer is upset his son knows more about George Washington than Filipino heroes; Expectorants focuses on debates on Rizal and people’s comments on Filipino novels in general; The Wily Filipino refuses to get on the cocomat bandwagon and voted for a non-Filipino invention instead; PhilFox Network promotes Hyperwage Theory (20,000 pesos a month for maids! 50,000 a month for call center representatives! Hey, at this rate, I like the idea: imagine the salaries for writers! Whee!); Lonely Vampire reposts an eloquent condemnation of homophobia.
In the expand your mind department, Another Hundred Years Hence begins looking into Cebu’s plans to be more liveable, and how liveability could apply to Metro Manila; and Big Mango continues his series on nation-building.