If there’s big news today, it will be the Supreme Court’s decision on the VAT law. The Supreme Court likes releasing its decisions, though, late in the day.
So the news for now is what happened yesterday (which I tried to cover, and which Miron tried to cover, though neither of us covered the final blow, which PCIJ did).
By their headlines, ye shall judge them. The papers all screamed today about the decision of the Committee on Justice to throw out all the impeachment complaints. The Inquirer said, 6 votes shy to impeach; the Star said, Panel kills impeachment; the Manila Times said, Lozano complaint dead; the Manila Standard Today said, Plenary showdown last impeach hope; the Daily Tribune said, House kills complaint, wraps up hearings; Malaya said, Ã¢â‚¬ËœGarapalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢! Gloria allies kill all 3 impeach bids; the Manila Bulletin said House votes 50-4-1. The newspapers’ editorials give contesting views, as well: the Inquirer says there are now Two new arenas; the Manila Times proclaims there was a staged walkout; Malaya thunders, Spare us the hypocrisy;
In other news, Carlos Conde reports on something someone mentioned to me recently: one reason the President is genuinely popular in many parts of the Visayas is her Strong Republic Nautical Highway project.
The blogosphere has the administration blog, renamed Rational Sphere, switching off its comments function. Someone emailed me about this:
I hope you have not made up your daily blog yet but check out the government blog, rational sphere, and interestingly, they took out the comments section apparently anticipating a deluge of criticism.Before they removed it , there were 2 comments but after the Justice Committee threw out the 3 complaints, they also threw out the comments part of their blog.
So much for a healthy interaction between those governing and the governed.
The punditocracy of course is all a-twitter over the opposition walkout and the killing of the impeachment complaints. My column for today The walkout by the minority, differs in outlook from Bel Cunanan’s; Alex Magno calls the oppositionists a band of brats; Emil Jurado calls them young goons; Dong Puno’s column is a bit dated but he did predict what happened: a quick death for impeachment, premised on this gamble:
If the majority chooses instant death for impeachment, its calculation must be that it would be better to take the heat now. Its hope would be that the economic situation will both focus the public on basic survival issues and give ample opportunity to GMA to prove that she can lead the country out of crisis. The risk, of course, is that that crisis will escalate to the point where she will be unable to govern in any case.
Recall in previous entries of mine, this has been precisely the scuttlebutt about the majority’s calculations. Which means, if there are those who denounce the minority for sticking to a script, the same can be said of the majority.
Connie Veneracion has her best column so far, when it comes to politics, anyway. Paying generous tribute to La Vida Lawyer and his Sun Tzu analyses (the latest of which is online, today), she says,
In its obsession with media coverage, as though its victory depended on it, it would seem that the opposition missed its most glaring mistake. It put the administration in a position where it was prepared. It gave the administration time and opportunity to fight back. This was true during the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Gloria, resign!Ã¢â‚¬Â campaign and just as true during the period when the amended impeachment complaint was being prepared and even thereafter when the campaign for signatures was on. The widespread publicity garnered by the Hyatt-10 was an even bigger blow. If there are people in a position to know what electoral frauds had been committed by the Arroyo administration, that would be the Hyatt-10. But of what use are they now? Even if another impeachment rap is filed against the President after a year, the Hyatt-10 had already divulged their aces. The element of surprise had already been lost.
There’s also this paragraph, which reminds me of something I once said in confidence to colleagues full of admiration for the new breed of politicians. I said, be careful of these young congressmen, because they were raised during martial law, and the profoundest lesson martial law taught is that nice guys finish last. Veneracion writes,
Then why the full blast campaign anyway? Well, you see, it was the perfect opportunity to elevate the stature of certain members of the opposition who, in a few years, will be seeking seats in the Senate and, afterwards, gunning for MalacaÃƒÂ±ang. That explains the obsession with media coverage. The real target was for the public to remember names and faces and associate them with the image of fraud-busters. It was the perfect time to groom new leaders and figureheads for the opposition Ã¢â‚¬â€ people who possess the personality and right image to beat the strongest political contenders from the administration bloc. For these people and those behind them, losing the chance to impeach the President is no loss at all. They have won; they are winning still. But their biggest victory is yet to come. IF they stay on course.
Tony Abaya thinks too much time has been wasted in covering the House, because the real story may be that Garcillano, the witness that really matters, is dead.
Conrado de Quiros insists the solution remains a snap election; Ellen Tordesillas (whom I had the pleasure of interacting with yesterday during a public diplomacy planning session at the Department of Foreign Affairs) recounts the dinner given by Susan Roces for pro-impeachment congressmen; Lito Banayo thinks the President’s former cabinet people are sincere, and her lawyers, clever; Federico Pascual thinks killing impeachment will hurt the President; Alfredo G. Rosario denouncing Armando Doronila as unfit to be a diplomat; . H. Marcos C. Mordeno thinks the military won’t be an instrument of change (as Alejandro Lichauco has argued); JB Baylon argues that the public doesn’t have the luxury of thinking it can ignore politics.
(4pm) Belated blogosphere roundup:
Extremely thought-provoking entries from Newsstand. First, a meditiation on Tuchman’s book, “The Guns of August,” and John F. Kennedy’s reaction to the book during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The entry says,
I readily agree with Rep. Teddy Locsin, who told David Celdran and Karmina Constantino yesterday afternoon that the pro-impeachment congressmen’s walkout was “premature.” He had said that after the Committee on Justice voted to bar the two other impeachment complaints, but before the Committee found the original Lozano complaint insufficient in substance. Last night’s vote, I think, gives us more reason to say the walkout came a day early.
Newsstand continues by pointing out that if the opposition walkout was premature, the administration’s steamroller tactic was a disaster, too. At the time it took place, my instinctive response, texted to a colleague, was “too soon.” Then, as events unfolded, I texted my colleague, “it seems they can spin this.”
The spin came with Edmund Reyes’s speech the next day, which Newsstand also commented on:
Maybe something was lost in the translation, from live feed to replay, but I must say I found the speech halting and awkward…We should never underestimate the capacity of any politician to eat crow, or to endure humiliation, as long as his interests are served, preferably in the short run. But the self-righteousness of the impeachment spokesman couldn’t have been more off-putting.
Just a clarification though, if people have the impression, as Newsstand did, that I praised the speech without reservation; what I did say that it was eloquent, it was good political theater, a marvelous move as I said. Rep. Locsin said it only served to harden party lines, an observation backed up by the indignant speeches made by majority congressmen. But the camera recorded the amused expressions of Rep. Datumanong and friends, and the angry words of old majority congressmen, so the image was: the young versus the old, and in a young society the young, who are in the majority, will gravitate to the young. As it is, Newsstand eloquently sums up what may be the brewing reaction to the majority’s subsequent moves. Referring to the Inquirer’s front page photo of happy administration congressmen saluting each other, he says,
That is why the picture disturbs us, makes us uneasy: It shows us the generals of this particular victory congratulating themselves, breathing in the smell of napalm, unaware, or heedless, of the rustling in the neighboring hills.
Gari has two posts on the violence that took place outside the gates of the House here and here. Big mango continues his series on nation building; Go figure analyzes how the “bust” in the “boom-and-bust” cycle of our economy can be eliminated; Philippine Politics asks people to join the campaign to text their representatives to support impeachment; Edwin Lacierda writes an open letter to Edmund Reyes; and Punzi pens an elegy to the impeachment process.
Abroad, BuzzMachine points to the American blogosphere’s rallying to raise money for hurricane victims.