This week marks the big push. The fight is taking place on two fronts.
The first front is the parliament of the streets, the fight for public opinion. That is civil society, the Left, and the opposition, which have formed a tacit alliance. The alliance, or coalition, is the Bukluran para sa katotohanan. Read Sylvia Mayuga who describes the atmosphere in political and activist circles this weekend, and the circumstances that have led to this unifying move. The points of unity of this coalition will be read during a press conference tomorrow at La Salle Green Hills at 11 a.m. Cory Aquino may be there.
Cory Aquino and Susan Roces are also expected to attend the session of the House of Representatives tomorrow, to help forestall the approval of the Committee on Justice report in plenary. The government has already leaked its plans to create a ring of troops around the House of Representatives and not let anyone through.
The second front is within the House itself. If true, the return of Rep. Mikey Arroyo is significant, as it has reached the stage where every vote counts, including the vote of the President’s son. Also significant, if true, is Rep. Gilbert Remulla’s denunciation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Air Transportation Office for withholding information from Congress on the Garcillano escape.
PCIJ has already reported on the intense lobbying (and more) going on. The Palace will be monitoring things on several levels: the first, is public opinion, as reflected in the media; the second, the ability, or inability, of the new anti-Arroyo opposition to remain united; third, the ability of Sec. Claudio and Speaker de Venecia to keep their ranks of congressmen from being raided; fourth, the ability, or lack of it, of the opposition to muster 79 (and necessarily, more, in case of treachery) votes to overturn the Committee on Justice report; and finally, whether or not the media firestorm expected to erupt tomorrow, will spill over into the provinces.
Here the calculations of the President and the Speaker will be crucial. Recall that the disposition of the impeachment complaints was scheduled to take place on Thursday, but for some reason, the House majority forced the issue on Wednesday evening last week. This suggests that the Palace is afraid it’s attempts to forestall 79 signatures can only last so long, and prolonging the moment of truth to Tuesday and possibly, early Wednesday morning, may not be in the interest of the President.
Ricky Carandang (who has moved to his own domain) has a two part series on the calculations going through the minds of the President and the Speaker of the House. His information is similar to scuttlebutt previously mentioned here.
In Speaker Puno (Part 1), Carandang expands on the strategic calculations of the President and the Speaker based on the premise neither trusts the other, but that possibly, the Speaker trusts the President less than she trusts him (by necessity). This news article, which speaks of the President pushing for the Palace to be moved to Pampanga, may be a sign of good faith, so to speak, from the President to the Speaker.
In Speaker Puno (Part 2), Carandang explores a post-impeachment scenario in which the President must deliver on her promise to the Speaker and Fidel Ramos by using the House to overwhelm the Senate. Retired justice Isagani Cruz examines this idea of forcing charter change through the lower house alone. Incidentally, Carandang’s exploration of how the Supreme Court might rule may get him into trouble (at least Newsstand is bothered by the implications of the SC’s citing Cesar Purisima for contempt).
The forces of the President have relied, thus far, on the crucial quality of snob appeal: hence what I call “Teacup Power,” in the series of full page ads bearing the signatures of some of Manila’s Society 400 Matrons. The idea, too, that the Middle Forces have held back because of the “yuck” factor of the Estradas, Marcoses, etc. But it has become apparent that if the overarching goal is to make the President accountable, then what will precisely retard the effort to hold her accountable is to continue the fragmentation of forces to persist.
The Palace is therefore in a race to get what it wants before 79 signatures are achieved and the tacit alliance between forces against the President gels into something more solid and lasting. If it forces the issue on Monday, it may be worse than forcing the issue anyway on Tuesday or early Wednesday morning. But perhaps it has no other choice.